Marblehead, Ma — Commander Harold R. Gillam, a veteran of World War II and the Vietnam War, and a civil engineer, died in his sleep on November 16, 2013, joining his beloved wife, Margaret S. (Kelleher) Gillam. Known by family and friends for his faithfulness, loyalty, character, and determination, he was a good man, deeply loved and is greatly missed.
Commander Gillam is survived by two sons, Joseph W. Gillam of Ithaca, N.Y., and Harold R. Gillam III of Athol, Mass.; and his daughter-in-law, Tabitha F. Gillam and three dear grandchildren, Grace, Griffin and Grant. He is also survived by his brother and sister-in-law, Jack and Nellie Gillam, of Tacoma, Wash.; his nephew, John Robert Gillam; his niece, Nellie Jo Burns; and his sister-in-law, Joanna Kelleher, widow of brother-in-law, Joseph W. Kelleher.
Born on January 29, 1925, in Tacoma, Wash., he was the eldest son of Texas native and World War I veteran, Harold R. Gillam (1896-1931), and Minnesota native and registered nurse, Josephine O. (Johnson) Gillam (1896-1960). A Lutheran, he was raised during the Depression, developing discipline by necessity. Abel Rafsøl Johnson, his maternal grandfather, who emigrated from Norway to build a life in the United States, was his role model.
He fell in love with the sea and its ships. On August 17, 1942, he began his service in the U.S. Navy. He was a gunner’s mate on the USS Baldwin (DD-624) and USS President Monroe (AP-104), participating in the Gilbert Islands invasion at Abemama and Taraw, Marshall Islands operations at Kwajalein and Eniwetok, invasion of Guam, and operations at Lingayen Gulf and Iwo Jima. He served as a boating officer on landing craft for several landings during the Pacific campaign. He was awarded the World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal (Navy) with one Bronze Star, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one Silver Star, Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation, and Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one Bronze Star. From 1948 to 1949, he served at sea as a turret captain on the USS Macon (CA-132), USS Des Moines (CA-134) and USS Salem (CA-139). On the Salem, he was a member of the crew responsible for commissioning the world’s last all-gun heavy cruiser.