Grand Strand Chapter

  Lt Colonel Thomas Clinton Middleton, USA (Ret)  20 May 1940- 17 Mar 2018                                     


Lt Colonel Thomas Clinton Middleton Jr.,77, of North Myrtle Beach, SC passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his loving family on 03/17/2018. Born on May 20, 1940, in Hartsville, SC, he was the son of the late Thomas Clinton Middleton and Jessie Perry Middleton. In addition to his parents, Tom is preceded in death by his son Robert Middleton, daughters Julie Middleton, Sherrie Middleton, and his brother Robin Earl Middleton. Survivors include his wife Delores Garcia Middleton, sister Gail Middleton Leaird, son Thomas Clinton Middleton III, two grandchildren, Jarrett Middleton Dancha, Reece Middleton and nephews, Robin Meade Middleton and Bo Vaden. Mr. Middleton proudly served his country in the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Branch. He graduated from Presbyterian College with a bachelor's degree. He earned his master's degree in criminal justice from the University of Baltimore and was selected to attend the FBI national academy. He retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel in 1984. He started his second career in real estate in Ft Meade, MD. In 1991, he was recalled to active duty and served in the U.S. Army Escort Detachment at Ft. Meade. He was involved in the Green Beret incident which is written about in the book "A Murder in Wartime" by Jeff Stein. After being released from active duty, Tom moved to Myrtle Beach where he renewed his real estate career with Grand Strand Realty. Tom was known for his Wednesday night Happy Hours which he and his wife hosted up and down the Grand Strand for 23 years. They have had hundreds of people attend the parties and several couples who met at the parties would later get married. Tom was a member of the Myrtle Beach Republican Club, Vietnam Veterans Club, Optimist Club, VFW, American Legion, MOAA, FBI Academy Association, Tea Party, CCA Realtors, and Vice President of the Ski and Outing Club. Tom loved to play golf, the beach, beach music, shagging and meeting new people. Tom never met a stranger.
A celebration of life was held at: Whiskey Beach Bar & Grill Gallaria Shopping Center 9668 Kings Highway.
In lieu of flowers, friends and family were asked to send memorials  to the
DAV, P.O. Box 30637, Myrtle Beach, S.C. 29588 or The Grand Strand Miracle League ,PO Box 7503, Myrtle Beach, SC 28572, which was a big passion of Tom's.


Published in The Sun News from Mar. 25 to Apr. 1, 2018


Captain Ross Word, USN (Ret)  2 May 1947- 4 JUN 2018


Captain Ross A. Word USN (Ret), age 71, passed away Monday, June 4, 2018 at his residence.

Born May 2, 1947 in Honolulu, HI, he was the son of the late Colonel William E. Word, USMC (ret) and late Thalia Hettama Word. Mr. Word proudly served his country in the US Navy and was a Veteran of the Vietnam War. He served 25 years as a Combat Vet. He was awarded 5 Air Medals, 3 Navy Commendations with combat, and a Distinguished Flying Cross, also earned in combat. Following his retirement, he worked as an instructor with Horry County Schools NJROTC as an SNSI (Senior Naval Science Instructor) for 20 years. Mr. Word was a member of the Masonic Conway Lodge No. 65.

Surviving are his wife of 33 years, Susan Greenhalgh Word of Conway; two sons, Stephen Word of Phoenix, AZ and William Word of Myrtle Beach; four daughters, Leah Word Peterson of Hudson, OH, Julia Word Casper of San Antonio, TX, Jacqueline Word Neumann of Wake Forest, NC, Thalia Word of Roanoke, VA; six grandchildren; in laws, Captain William and Dianne Greenhalgh of Myrtle Beach; one brother, Kenneth Word of Honolulu, HI; and two sisters, Leslie Bateman of Tacoma, WA and Sydney Beckett of Eureka, CA.

Captain Word was a vital member of the Grand Strand Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, not only serving as its President but also reviving it from a dormant state, initiating our growth into the thriving organization it is today.


Colonel Robert T. Hawkins, USA (Ret)  11 Apr 1942 - 6 Sep 2018

 Retired Army Colonel and former Director of the Indiana Veterans Home, Robert T. (Bob) Hawkins, born on April 11, 1942 in Indianapolis, IN passed away on Sunday, September 2, 2018.

He was the son of the late Mr. & Mrs. A. Floyd Hawkins and brother of the late A. Floyd Hawkins, Jr. He is survived by his wife Fran; daughter Robin and son-in-law Mike Pineda and granddaughters Liliann and Parker; brother-in-law Dick Bennett and Anita; sister-in-law, Esther Benton and several nieces and nephews.
He was an active member of his community, volunteering in numerous organizations to promote the needs of veterans and others. He received the Volunteer of the Year Award for the city of Myrtle Beach as well as the Strom Thurmond Distinguished Public Service Award from the American Legion.
During his twenty eight years of service in the Army, he received numerous accommodations including: The Bronze Star for service in Vietnam, The Legion of Merit (with 2 Oak Leaf clusters), Meritorious Service Medal (with 4 Oak Leaf clusters), Army Commendation Medal (with 4 Oak Leaf clusters), and Order of Military Medical Merit. 
He touched the lives of many individuals and will be missed. We love you Papa!

A funeral service was held at 2:00 pm Thursday, September 6, 2018 at Goldfinch Funeral Home, Beach Chapel. The family received friends from 1:00-1:45 pm prior to the service. Burial will be held at a later date in Arlington National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may still be made to: The American Red Cross, 104 Screven Street, Georgetown, SC 29440 or MOAA Grand Strand Chapter, PO Box 15842, Surfside Beach, SC 29587-5842.
Sign an on line guestbook at

In summation, allow us to say that Bob was a inspiration to his family, the community and certainly to all of us at the Grand Strand Chapter of MOAA.

RADM. Harry Highfill, USN (Ret)  9 Sep 1943-29 Sep 2018


Rear Admiral Harry Mitchell Highfill, USN (Ret), 75, passed away peacefully on September 29, 2018 in his home in Myrtle Beach, SC surrounded by his family and close friends.
Born September 9, 1943 in Lumberton, NC, Admiral Highfill grew up in Winter Garden, FL, graduating in 1961 from Lakeview High where he excelled in math, sciences and sports. He received an athletic football scholarship to Clemson University and later transferred to Troy State University where he lettered in football, graduating in 1967 with a BA in Mathematics.
After graduation, Admiral Highfill completed the Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, FL and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy in 1967, later receiving his Wings of Gold as a Naval Aviator, his lifelong ambition. He spent the next 33 years in the Naval Service, retiring in 2000 at the rank of Rear Admiral. During that time, Admiral Highfill accumulated over 1000 carrier landings, made two combat tours completing 350 combat missions in Vietnam, participated in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Provide Comfort for Kurdish Refugees in Northern Iraq, commanded two carrier aviation squadrons (VAW-117 and RVAW-110), two ships (USS Guadalcanal (LPH-7) and USS Belleau Wood (LHA-3)), and was Operations Officer on USS Enterprise (CVN-65) and Aide to Commander Strike Group SIXTH Fleet in Naples, Italy. As a Flag Officer, he was Vice Director for Command, Control, Computers and Communications (J-6) on the Joint Staff, and Commander Amphibious Forces SEVENTH Fleet out of Okinawa, Japan. During his service he was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit (4), the Air Medal (6) and 55 other decorations, medals and campaign ribbons. Admiral Highfill was a Distinguished Graduate of the Naval War College earning a Master of Arts degree in International Security and Foreign Affairs.

Upon retirement from the Navy in 2000, Admiral Highfill settled in Great Falls, VA, where he was appointed as a Vice President for SAIC. Later, he was appointed as a Vice President for C4ISR at the Titan Corporation. He then was appointed as the President and CEO of Base Technologies where, under his leadership, the company was recognized as one of the Top 100 Information Technologies companies in the US. Admiral Highfill was recognized by all who worked for him for his depth of knowledge, attention to detail, focus, hearty laugh, and love of life. He was generous with his time and talents and mentored many along the way. Upon his second retirement, he settled in the Grand Strand region of South Carolina where he worked in real estate, fished, played golf, told tall tales of his many adventures, some of which were true, and, most of all, enjoyed to the fullest by his many friends and family.

Admiral Highfill was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He is survived by his beloved wife, Jenny, his daughter, Cheryl Highfill Woods, her husband, CDR Jeffrey Woods and their three children, Connor, Keira and Kendall of New Freedom, PA; his son, Dr. Jeffrey Scott Highfill, his wife, Dr. Jessica Colburn and their two children, Madeline and Liam of Silver Spring, MD; and his step-daughter, Lauren Jordan Perry of Charleston, SC. He was preceded in death by his beloved daughter, Kristin Leigh Highfill, in 2005 and his faithful companion Boxer, Lucy, in 2015.
A burial at Arlington National Cemetery Will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Ronald McDonald House and The LilaBean Foundation.

Published in The Sun News on Oct. 3, 2018

Lt.Col. William T. "Sonny" Edens, USA (Ret)  3 May 1950-17 Dec 2018 

William T. “Sonny” Edens, 68, passed away Monday, December 17, 2018, in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Sonny was born May 3, 1950, a son of the late Margaret Ann Keith and Hiott C. Edens in Conway, SC.  He graduated in 1968 from Wampee High School and graduated from Clemson University in 1972.

From Clemson, Sonny joined the United States Army serving in jobs spanning 3 continents and was deployed during Desert Storm with the 101st Airborne Division.  He proudly served his country for 27 years before retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2000.  

He is survived by his wife, Kathy Robinson Edens; son William T. Edens, Jr. (Amanda) of Conway, SC; daughter Elizabeth A. Edens of Charleston, SC; two grandsons, William T. “Tra” Edens, III, and Tilghman T. Edens; and his brother, Allen Keith Edens of Columbia, SC.

A memorial service was be held on Saturday, January 5, 2019 at McMillan Small Funeral Home, 910 67th Avenue North, Myrtle Beach, SC 29572 at 11:00 a.m. The family received friends from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the funeral home prior to the service.

In lieu of flowers, donations may still be made to Meals on Wheels of Horry County, P. O. Box 50862, Myrtle Beach, SC 29579.


MOAA Grand Strand Chapter is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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