Colonel John F. Hatch Jr. was born in 1935 in Middletown, Rhode Island, and died in 2020 in Texas. He attended Rogers High School, where he was senior class president and played football and baseball. After graduating high school, he was admitted to URI, where was a member of Phi Gamma Delta, serving as social chairman. John graduated in 1957 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and as a Distinguished Military Graduate, receiving a regular Army commission as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers.
John’s first assignment was to the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fulda, Germany, from 1957 through 1960, where he served in a variety of company grade engineer positions. Upon returning to the U.S. and earning a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Texas A & M, Captain Hatch was deployed to Vietnam as an engineer advisor. He then deployed to Korea, as an Assistant Engineer Officer in the Engineer Division.
In 1967, Major John Hatch was again deployed to Vietnam, stationed in Vung Tau, where combat was intense during the Tet Offensive. His Bronze Star Medal citation reads: “For Meritorious Achievement in Ground Operations Against Hostile Forces while serving with the 20th Engineer Brigade.” Upon returning to the U.S., John attended the Command and General Staff College and remained there as an instructor.
In 1972, LTC Hatch was selected to command the 34th Engineer Battalion (Construction), at Fort Riley, Kansas, supporting the 1st Infantry Division’s annual “Reforger” exercises in Germany. His battalion also hosted a British Army construction unit, and they worked together on several high-profile construction projects. In 1977, LTC Hatch was assigned to the Middle East Engineer Division, in Saudi Arabia, where he managed a 10-billion-dollar international construction program.
In 1981, Colonel Hatch was then selected as District Engineer, Memphis District, Tennessee. His responsibilities included flood damage reduction, navigation, environmental stewardship, emergency operations, and civil works for an area that spanned 25,000 square miles in six states along 610 miles of the Mississippi and White Rivers. He was jointly cited for excellence by the Memphis Society of Professional Engineers and by the Board of the Yazoo-Mississippi Levy Commissioners. For his final duty assignment from 1984 to 1986, Colonel Hatch returned to Fort Benning to oversee engineering and environmental activities.
John’s awards include two Legions of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, and Parachutist Badge, among numerous other ribbons and foreign awards. Colonel Hatch was a graduate of the Army War College and earned a Master of Business Administration from Columbus College. He was certified as a professional engineer by the Texas Board of Professional Engineers.
After military retirement, John worked for Metcalf and Eddy in Alexandria, Egypt, for seven years as project manager for an $80-million wastewater project. His final position was with Brown and Root in Houston, including overseeing construction of the Astros baseball park.
An avid golfer, John also refereed youth basketball and coached and umpired Little League baseball. He provided student scholarships in honor of his parents through Trinity Church in Newport and donated for decades to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. He was a lifetime supporter of and donor to URI.
John was married for 62 years to Anne Shepley Hatch, also of Middletown, and a URI graduate. The Hatches had two daughters, Cheryl and Karen, two sons, J (John F. Hatch III) and Michael, and two grandchildren, Alison and Christopher.