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Serving in all capacities

Not one to sit around ‘as a flunky,’ Jack Hammett will receive an award for his years of service that began at Pearl Harbor in the Navy.

August 22, 2007|By Alicia Robinson

He designed Costa Mesa’s first reserve police officer training program, he helped build a medical group that swelled from two to 85 doctors, he’s performed an appendectomy at sea, and he still finds his wife beautiful after 67 years of marriage.

It’s probably fair to say Jack Hammett has done it all.

Today, Costa Mesa City Council members will present Hammett, 87, with a lifetime service award for the many things he’s done for the city and the larger community — the short list includes 22 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy hospital corps, 15 years on the Planning Commission and City Council, posts on state boards for aeronautics and medicine, and service as a reserve police officer for Costa Mesa.

“Jack has just done so much for the city during his lifetime, and I just feel it’s important to recognize that,” said Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor, who recommended the one-of-a-kind award at the suggestion of a fellow veteran and friend of Hammett. “Jack is one-of-a-kind, so it’s appropriate.”

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It all stemmed from his military career, which more or less began at Pearl Harbor. Hammett recalls with absolute clarity looking out over the battleships in the harbor the day the Japanese attacked, seeing one ship upside down and another in flames.

“All those bodies, all that carnage, all that destruction happened in just one hour and 50 minutes,” he said.

He stayed in the Navy for nearly two more decades. When he was about ready to get out, he happened to be in Long Beach helping give polio shots at a church and struck up a conversation with the doctor working next to him.

The doctor was looking for a business manager to help him open a new medical clinic. So Hammett left the Navy, joined the medical group and was at work there the same day.

Two years later, he helped found Bristol Park Medical Group in Costa Mesa. It grew from two doctors to 85 doctors when he retired in 1985.

After joining the Costa Mesa police reserves in 1961, Hammett was dismayed to find himself, with his two decades of military experience, “sitting here as a flunky, getting coffee for these guys.”

So he spoke to the police chief about it and ended up creating a training program for reserve officers. He ended up receiving the first badge given for completing the training. He still keeps it in his desk at home.

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