Medal of Honor recipient John "Bud" Hawk, DCM speaks with McChord cadets
Once in a while, we have the pleasure of meeting those people who have made both a significant contribution and a significant sacrifice in the name of freedom.
The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
HAWK, JOHN D.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S.
Army, Company E, 359th Infantry, 90th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near
Chambois, France, 20 August 1944. Entered service at: Bremerton, Wash. Birth:
San Francisco, Calif. G.O. No.: 55, 13 July 1945.
He manned a light machinegun on 20 August 1944, near Chambois, France, a key point in the
encirclement which created the Falaise Pocket. During an enemy counterattack, his position
was menaced by a strong force of tanks and infantry. His fire forced the infantry to
withdraw, but an artillery shell knocked out his gun and wounded him in the right thigh.
Securing a bazooka, he and another man stalked the tanks and forced them to retire to a
wooded section. In the lull which followed, Sgt. Hawk reorganized 2 machinegun squads and,
in the face of intense enemy fire, directed the assembly of 1 workable weapon from 2
damaged guns. When another enemy assault developed, he was forced to pull back from the
pressure of spearheading armor. Two of our tank destroyers were brought up. Their shots
were ineffective because of the terrain until Sgt. Hawk, despite his wound, boldly climbed
to an exposed position on a knoll where, unmoved by fusillades from the enemy, he became a
human aiming stake for the destroyers. Realizing that his shouted fire directions could
not be heard above the noise of battle, he ran back to the destroyers through a
concentration of bullets and shrapnel to correct the range. He returned to his exposed
position, repeating this performance until 2 of the tanks were knocked out and a third
driven off. Still at great risk, he continued to direct the destroyers' fire into the
Germans' wooded position until the enemy came out and surrendered. Sgt. Hawk's fearless
initiative and heroic conduct, even while suffering from a painful wound, was in large
measure responsible for crushing 2 desperate attempts of the enemy to escape from the
Falaise Picket and for taking more than 500 prisoners.
Mr Hawk explains that he didn't "win" the Medal of Honor because it wasn't a contest and there were many other people who are equally deserving.
As Mr Hawk was speaking, he passed the Medal of Honor around the room so that everyone present would have the chance to see and hold the medal.
John Hawk right after completion of his initial training.
John Hawk in combat (before getting fed)...
And after getting fed.
John Hawk with others from his unit in the 90th Infantry Division.
Mr Hawk noted that some of the men in this photo were killed shortly after it was taken.
He explained his lessons learned While serving in Europe. Specifically that, "The French would have had more livestock if they could have taught their cows what 'HALT' meant." Unfortunately, cows at night sound a lot like men when they walk. As Mr Hawk described it... "Halt! Halt! Bang! Moo!"
While serving in Europe Mr Hawk received several awards from the United States including FOUR Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star. He also received the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) from the United Kingdom. The DCM was the 2nd highest British award for valor given to enlisted men during WWII, the only higher award was the Victoria Cross. However, the cows didn't give any medals to Mr Hawk.
The small skull insignia is from a Nazi officer's uniform, the "RM" insignia is from Mr Hawk's friend in the British Royal Marines, and the green and red "T" and "O" insignia is the shoulder patch of the 90th Infantry Division.
Mr Hawk received the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman. The presentation ceremony was held on the Capitol steps in Olympia, Washington.
The City of Bremerton, WA held a parade for John Hawk. Also in the photo are his mother and father.
Mr Hawk, thank you for taking the time to visit our Squadron.
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