A resident of Odessa, the owner of W.D. Hatton Watch, Clock and Jewelry Repair is the longest-running member of the Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce.
A resident of Odessa, the owner of W.D. Hatton Watch, Clock and Jewelry Repair is the longest-running member of the Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce. He also has been featured on the History Channel’s 2004 “D-Day: The Lost Evidence” documentary and in Time Magazine’s D-Day 60th anniversary issue the same year for his service aboard the USS McCook, which saw action off of Omaha Beach.
He is one of four Hometown Heroes who will be honored March 6 at the Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce’s Sixth-Annual Meet the Pros and Taste of MOT Spring Expo, along with volunteer organizer Carla Briccotto, Townsend Fire Company firefighter Brian Eide and Brig. Gen. Carol A. Timmons.
Q What’s it like to be named a Hometown Hero by the Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce?
A It’s nice. I think it comes with being older than most of the other merchants here in town. After a while, you start to get notoriety just for surviving so long.
Q You’re probably as well known for your military service as your business. Can you tell us a little about how you ended up on Destroyer off of Omaha Beach during D-Day?
A I got drafted into the Army first, so rushed to enlist in the Navy because my whole family had served in the Navy. I asked for a destroyer and got it. I worked in the boiler room, although I did operate the guns partly during the invasion. But other than that, I never saw daylight. That ship never stopped running the whole time I was on it. We got bombed in England and then headed to Normandy, where we saw 1,500 men shot on the beach in a matter of hours. Afterward, we headed to the south of France and then onto Northern Africa before conducting minesweeper missions in the Pacific, with stops in Okinawa and the Yellow Sea before finally ending up in Japan. I got invited back to France for the 60th anniversary of D-Day and my wife fell in love. We’ve back there three times since then.
Q What’s your secret to owning a long-running and successful business?
A Enjoy your work. I get frustrated when it gets to be too much, but I know how to control it. Other than that, it’s just good service. We closed for a few years after we got robbed a couple times, but I found out you can’t sail all year round, so we reopened. It’s my wife who keeps me going, really. We’ll have been married 69 years in June and she’s even busier than I am.
Q What advice do you have for other people who would like to make a difference in their community?
A Be of service. I do Meals on Wheels, although not as much as I used to. I’ve been in the Rotary for 60 years and a member of Volunteer Hose Company for 50 years. I’m also a member of the choir at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and my wife had been the co-chair of Christmas in Odessa for 50 years, so I’m involved in that too. You just do something to help out in your community. It’s that simple.