- Hurricane Camille: Monster Storm of the Gulf Coast (2004)
Courtesy of the author
Born in Laurel, Mississippi, Phil Hearn is the author of Hurricane Camille: Monster Storm of the Gulf Coast, a painfully compelling account of what many consider to be the most powerful storm ever to strike the U.S. mainland, as seen through the eyes of survivors. Based primarily on the first-person accounts housed in the oral history archives of the University of Southern Mississippi, the book was published by University Press of Mississippi in August 2004.
A former longtime newspaper reporter and editor, Hearn worked in the Jackson, Mississippi, and Birmingham, Alabama, bureaus of United Press International from 1968-1980; and his last newspaper job was as managing editor of the Greenwood Commonwealth in Greenwood, Miss., from 1983-1984.
Hearn covered a wide variety of breaking stories during his newspaper career that included the desegregation of Mississippi public schools, the trial and conviction of Ku Klux Klan terrorist bomber Thomas Tarrants, the slaying of black high school graduate Jo Etha Collier in Drew, Mississippi, events surrounding construction of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, the return of American troops from Vietnam, then-presidential candidate Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign speech at the Neshoba County Fair, the Mississippi Flood of 1979 and Hurricane Frederick, also in 1979.
He also covered four gubernatorial administrations, legislative sessions, state penitentiary conditions, state College Board meetings, the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, college football games, and state and national elections in Mississippi. Hearn has served since April 2003 as a research writer in the University Relations Office at Mississippi State University. He served for more than eighteen years as news directior for the University Relations Office at USM. During these years, Hearn won nine awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Higher Education (CASE)–including three first-place awards for news and feature writing, and for innovation. He also has won more than a dozen awards from the College Public Relations Association of Mississippi, serving two separate terms on the organization’s board of directors. He also served as an associate member of the Mississippi Press Association for eighteen years.
Hearn served for twenty years in military public affairs with the Mississippi Army National Guard’s 102nd Public Information Detachment, and with the U.S. Army Reserve’s 3rd Personnel Command, retiring from service in 1995 as a commissioned officer. In 1991, he won the Thomas Jefferson Award, the U.S. Defense Department’s highest award for feature writing, worldwide, in all branches of active and reserve military service. He has been published in Army Reserve and Vietnam magazines.
During the late 1970s to early 1980s, Hearn found long-distance running provided a challenging way to stay fit. He ran eight marathons over a five-year period, posting a personal best time of three hours, six minutes and 54 seconds in the 1979 Mississippi Marathon.
Hearn earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1966 and received a master’s degreee in public relations from USM in 1987. He also has completed twelve hours toward a master’s degree in history. Early in his newspaper career, he worked for the Meridian Star, Hattiesburg American and Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
Hearn is married to Brenda Jeansonne Hearn. A daughter, Kathy Michelle Hearn, resides in Jackson. Philip D. Hearn, a longtime Mississippi news reporter and editor, also worked as a research writer for the university relations office of Mississippi State University. His work has been published in Army Reserve magazine, Vietnam Magazine, and many newspapers.
Note: Biography courtesy of Philip D. Hearn
Hurricane Camille: Monster Storm of the Gulf Coast by Philip Hearn is the history of the hurricane which occurred on August 17 , 1969. Camille smashed into twenty-six miles of Mississippi’s coastline with winds more than 200 miles per hour and tidal waves almost 35 feet high. The book relates the memories of the people who survived, compiled ten years after the storm and archived at the University of Southern Mississippi. Camille is one of only three Category 5 hurricanes ever to hit the U. S. mainland. The storm also hit Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia and caused major flooding and damage there as well.
In Mississippi, one hundred and thirty-one people died in the devastation, and another forty-one people were never found. Hearn’s book is a gripping account of the horror of that night when so many people died. It also tells of the homes, shops, marinas which were destroyed. Hearn has the ability to put the experiences of the people who survived in perspective and puts a human face on the tragic experience. For those who remember reading about the event or who know people who lived through it, this book is an especially fascinating book. People interested in the history of Mississippi and the stories of natural disasters will also find this book particularly of interest.
- ‘Hurricane Camille’ reads more like a suspense novel. by Ashley Elkins, Daily Jounral. 2005
- BookPage’s Edward Morris interviews Hearn about his book.
- Heard’s writing about MSU scientists inventing a diabetes breathalzzer won a first place in senior division of the College Public Relations Association of Mississippi for creative work performed during 2004.