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Hunt, Ora B.


Rank: Brigadier General
Serial Number: O-450
Military Branch: Third Division
Origin: California
Date of Death: 1969-8-20
West Point
Featured: No

Ora E. Hunt 1894

1894 Class Crest

Cullum No. 3591 • Aug 20, 1969 • Died in Berkeley, California

Interred in West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY


Ora Elmer Hunt was born in Berryessa, Napa County, California, on 26 June 1872. While he was still a young boy, his family moved to the frontier lumber town of Point Arena on the California coast. For schooling he had to attend a small country school at Boonville, some thirty miles away. The school master recognized his ability and ambition and gave him special training in subjects not well covered in the little country school.

He had from early days a burning desire to attend the Military Academy at West Point. So even before he finished high school in Boonville, he took the preliminary examination for the Academy held in San Francisco. He passed and got approval to take the final examinations at West Point. Although he was somewhat short of academic credits and formal education, the officers in charge at the Academy recognized his abilities and determination and gave him the opportunity to make up the deficiencies. He graduated with the Class of 1894 and was assigned to Vancouver Barracks, Washington, where he served for four years.

With the outbreak of the Spanish-American War he was sent to the Philippines, staying on after the war to serve in the Philippine Insurrection. Later he aided in preparing much needed military maps of the Islands.

His next assignment was to the Infantry and Cavalry School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, graduating with distinction in 1906, followed by a year at the Staff College there. From Leavenworth he returned to West Point as instructor in the Department of English and History from 1908-1910 and then as assistant and later associate professor of modem languages, which post he held until 1917. During his tour of duty he edited and contributed to Volume V of the Photographic History of the Civil War. This volume, of the ten volume series, covered the subjects of forts, defenses, and artillery.

At the outbreak of World War I in 1917, he was assigned briefly as senior instructor in Infantry Tactics at the Officers' Training School at Fort Myer, Virginia. Later the same year he was appointed Colonel of the 320th Infantry, 80th Division at Camp Lee, Virginia, and then before leaving for France he was made Brigadier General in Command of the 6th Brigade of the 3d U. S. Division. He was 45 years old at the time.

The 6th Brigade under General Hunt’s command took a distinguished and very active part in the operations of the American Expeditionary Forces in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives in September and October 1918. The Brigade received high commendations from the Commander in Chief, and General Hunt was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and Silver Star Citation for valor and distinguished leadership of the Brigade in these actions.

With the end of the war and the return of the 3d Division to the States, General Hunt was given command of the Division while stationed at Camp Pike, Arkansas, in 1919. His next assignment was to the Inspector General’s Department, Washington, D. C., where he served until 1923, at which time he was retired at his own request. He then returned to California and settled in Berkeley, where he made his home except for his service in Nicaragua.

Five years after retirement, President Coolidge asked him to serve on the Joint American Electrol Mission to supervise the elections in politically unstable Nicaragua. This election became known as the “First Scandaless” presidential election to be held in that troubled country. For his part in this mission he was awarded the Marine Corps Medal.

General Hunt was married in 1896 to Eva Smith, by whom he had a son Leland and two daughters, Virginia and Margaret. They were divorced in 1927, and two years later he married Josephine Guion. Katherine was the only child of this marriage.

General Hunt was a man of many friends, wide spread interests and enthusiasms and was known as a brilliant conversationalist. He was a great lover of the natural beauty of the great outdoors, and he and his family travelled extensively throughout the West after his retirement. The mountains, the seashore, the forests, and lakes were to him a never ending source of inspiration and enjoyment, which he enthusiastically shared with his family.