Robert E. Hamilton was a native of Oklahoma City. He was raised in Edmond and graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma where he lettered in football, basketball and track. He joined the Marine Corps in 1956 and was commissioned the following year.
During the Vietnam War, he served as battalion adviser for the Vietnamese Marine Corps. While in Vietnam, he was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Navy Commendation Medal. After serving state-side as an ROTC instructor, he returned overseas as an executive officer with a Marine amphibious unit. His battalion comprised the landing force which was deployed off the coast of Vietnam during the large scale North Vietnamese "Easter Offensive" attack across the DMZ in spring of 1972.
After retiring from the Marines as a lieutenant colonel in 1982, he obtained a doctorate degree. At the time of his death in 1998, he headed up the "Upward Bound" program at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, benefiting disadvantaged youths.