John Hamill, a decorated Vietnam War combat medic, journalist and screenwriter, passed away Tuesday after contracting COVID-19. He was 71.
The death of Hamill, the fifth of seven siblings born and raised in Brooklyn by Irish immigrant parents, came just a month after his older brother, author and newspaper columnist Pete Hamill, died at age 85.
John Hamill, a die-hard Mets fan, was retired and living in California when he came down with the virus three weeks ago and never recovered, according to a Facebook post by his sister Kathy.
“Johnny was a kind, brilliant, funny, sweet brother whom we loved so very much,” she wrote. “His entire family is heartbroken and devastated at a wonderful, meaningful life cut short.”
Hamill served in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne as a medic, surviving two helicopter crashes during the Tet Offensive while earning a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. When he returned home, John marched in Washington with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, recalled his brother Denis.
Hamill wound up in the family business of journalism with Denis and Pete, working as a reporter and Queens columnist for the Daily News. He also wrote for the Los Angeles Times Herald, the Boston Herald American, Rolling Stone magazine and the Village Voice, and co-authored a pair of Hollywood screenplays: “Turk 182!”, starring a young Timothy Hutton in 1985, and “Critical Condition” with Richard Pryor in the lead in 1987.
John Hamill also worked in public relations for the New York City Housing Authority. He is survived by wife Christine and daughter Molly, along with siblings Brian, Denis and Kathy.