James F. C. Hyde Jr., 87, who was blinded during World War II and who became an attorney in the Office of Management and Budget under six presidents, died of pulmonary fibrosis July 23,2006, at Sibley Memorial Hospital. He was a Bethesda, Maryland, resident.
Mr. Hyde was born in Cleveland and grew up in a military family. Expecting to follow in his father's footsteps, he received a bachelor's degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1942 and was sent overseas the next year.
As an artillery battery commander, he was serving with elements of the 3rd Division's artillery unit when he landed at Anzio Beach on January 22, 1944. That same day, a grenade exploded in the hand of a Lieutenant walking beside him. The explosion destroyed Mr. Hyde's left eye and took most of the sight in his right. (A botched eye operation in 1951 left him completely blind.) He received the Purple Heart.
After a long recuperation, he decided to go to law school and graduated eleventh in his class at the University of Pennsylvania in 1949. He also graduated from the National War College in 1967 and received a master's degree in international affairs from George Washington University in 1973.
Mr. Hyde began his career in government service in fall 1949, working for the Bureau of the Budget (later the Office of Management and Budget). He retired as deputy assistant director for legislative reference in 1976 and became staff counsel for the Grocery Manufacturers of America. He retired again in 1987. He also was an adjunct professor of political science at George Washington University from 1968 to 1983, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses on the American presidency.
He received the 1975 Benjamin F. Castle Award, given to a U.S. Military Academy graduate who has distinguished himself or herself by exemplifying the ideals of West Point in a military or civilian capacity. He was a member of the Chevy Chase, Metropolitan and University clubs.
Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Enid G. Hyde of Bethesda; three children, James F. C. Hyde III of Seattle and Leslie D. Hyde and Andrew G. Hyde, both of the District; and six grandchildren.
Like many Americans of a certain age, Jim Hyde grew up enjoying the Saturday-matinee antics of Spanky, Alfalfa, Buckwheat and their “Our Gang” pals. In 1944, lying wounded in a hospital bed in Naples, the 25-year-old Army captain couldn't have been more pleased that the young woman who came to read to him every day was Jean Darling, the blond, curly-haired sweetheart in many of the “Our Gang” comedies.
The dark-haired officer was also pleased that Darling had grown into a very attractive young woman, although he had to take the word of his fellow patients for that. Hyde could no longer see.
James F. C. Hyde Jr., who was 87 when he died July 23, 2006, at Sibley Memorial Hospital of pulmonary fibrosis, knew well what today's wounded veterans are experiencing. More than 60 years ago, he too saw his own youthful plans and ambitions dashed on a distant battlefield.
“I know what they're in for,” he told his son not long ago, after seeing disabled Iraq war veterans who were rehabilitating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. “But,” Andrew Hyde added, “he also realized that it was important for them to know there's a real life they can live out there.”
James Hyde, a Bethesda resident and a former president of the Blinded Veterans Association, was born in Cleveland and grew up in a military family. His father, a brigadier general, served in the Pacific during World War II, and the younger Hyde expected to follow in his footsteps when he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1942. A year later, he was an artillery battery commander in Italy, serving with elements of the 3rd Division's artillery unit. He landed at Anzio Beach on January 22, 1944.
He made his way inland for about a half-mile that day, evaluating gun positions identified on photo maps. Back on the beach, he was walking beside a lieutenant who was carrying a grenade when the device went off, killing the lieutenant and another soldier and nearly killing Hyde. The explosion destroyed his left eye and took most of the sight in his right. He almost lost a leg.
In an unpublished memoir, he recalled the despair that set in as he lay, day after day, in a hospital bed: “I was going to be blind. Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness buffeted me, as I lay there. My mind swarmed with images of a tapping white cane, a seeing-eye dog and the remembered image of a man singing off-key as he walked along Broadway on the arm of a grim-faced woman with an outstretched cup.”
After three months in the hospital in Naples and a harrowing 15-day trip across the Atlantic on a hospital ship vulnerable to German U-boats, he got to Valley Forge Hospital outside Philadelphia, where his parents were able to visit. After lunch that first day, his father brought in some magazines, planning to read to his son, but the two never got around to it. They talked all afternoon, and the tough, no-nonsense general opened up in ways he never had. He revealed that while a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he had attempted suicide.
The younger Hyde was stunned by the revelation — and puzzled by the timing — until he realized the unspoken message. His father, in his own way, was telling his terribly wounded son that he should never consider “doing a stupid thing like that, no matter how bad things looked.”
Shortly before dinner, the elder Hyde stood and squeezed his son's shoulder. “Well, I'll be on my way,” he said. “We're really going to get some reading done tomorrow.”
It was not to be. Hyde's father died of a heart attack early the next morning. He was 50.
After Hyde's long recovery, he decided to go to law school. Harvard and Yale were not interested in a blind student, but the University of Pennsylvania said yes. He received his law degree in 1949, graduating 11th in his class.
Five months later, Hyde was working out of a spacious office in President Harry S. Truman's White House as a member of the staff of the Bureau of the Budget, later the Office of Management and Budget. It was “pretty heady stuff” for a lawyer just out of school.
Hyde had been at the White House for about a year and a half when he went in for surgery on his right eye, hoping to improve the limited sight he had. Unfortunately, his regular ophthalmologist had run off to Reno, Nevada, with his secretary, leaving the procedure in the less-than-capable hands of a former assistant. He botched it, leaving Hyde completely blind.
“I was stopped dead in my tracks by the botched operation,” he wrote years later. “I fought off the temptation to lapse again into despair, partly by sweeping my feelings under the rug, partly by plunging back into work I was good at and enjoyed.”
He worked in the White House for 28 years, Truman through Gerald R. Ford. He loved reading (through Talking Books), politics, the theater and good conversation. He loved spending time with his family, said Enid Hyde, his wife of 54 years.
“I don't think he ever really came to terms with being blind,” she said. “He learned to live with his frustrations.”
HYDE, JAMES F.C., JR.
On Sunday, July 23, 2006; beloved husband of Enid G. Hyde; father of James, III of Seattle, Leslie D. Hyde and Andrew G. Hyde of Maryland. A memorial service will be held in late September. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 1332 N. Halsted St., #201, Chicago, IL 60622 or Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, 5225 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20015.
HYDE, JAMES F C JR
MAJ US ARMY
WORLD WAR II
DATE OF BIRTH: 04/17/1919
DATE OF DEATH: 07/23/2006
BURIED AT: SECTION 3 SITE 1640 WS
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
HYDE, JAMES F C
BRIGADIER GEN US ARMY
DATE OF DEATH: 08/07/1944
BURIED AT: SECTION SOUTH SITE 2004-A
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard