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Deane Hawkins was a smart boy-at El Paso's Lamar and Alta Vista Schools and at El Paso High School. He skipped the fifth grade. He won the state chemistry essay contest, graduated from high school at sixteen, and was awarded a scholarship to the Texas College of Mines where he studied engineering. Like most sons of the poor, he worked after school and during summer vacations, he sold magazines and delivered newspapers; he was a bank messenger and he made photostats for an abstract company. He was a ranch hand, a railroad hand, a bellhop. At seventeen, he was skinny and six feet tall. He met a hotel guest who told him laborers were needed to lay a pipeline in New Mexico. In New Mexico the hiring boss laughed: "Sonny, two-hundred-pound men are collapsing on this job." But he gave the kid a chance, and Deane Hawkins worked twelve hours a day lifting, with the help of one full-grown man, four hundred-pound creosoted pipe. When his mother saw her son a week later, she was horrified at the skinny boy, burned by wind, sun, sand, and creosote. "I'm all right now, mom," he said, "but the first day I thought I'd die."
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to

FIRST LIEUTENANT WILLIAM D. HAWKINS
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For valorous and gallant conduct above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of a Scout Sniper Platoon attached to the Second Marines, Second Marine Division, in action against Japanese-held Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, November 20 and 21, 1943. The first to disembark from the jeep lighter, First lieutenant Hawkins unhesitatingly moved forward under heavy enemy fire at the end of the Betio pier, neutralizing emplacements in coverage of troops assaulting the main breach positions. Fearlessly leading his men on to join the forces fighting desperately to gain a beachhead, he repeatedly risked his life throughout the day and night to direct and lead attacks on pill boxes and installations with grenades and demolition. At dawn on the following day, First Lieutenant Hawkins returned to the dangerous mission of clearing the limited beachhead of Japanese resistance, personally initiating an assault on a hostile fortified by five enemy machine guns and, crawling forward in the face of withering fire, boldly fired point-blank into the loopholes and completed the destruction with grenades. Refusing to withdraw after being seriously wounded in the chest during this skirmish, First Lieutenant Hawkins steadfastly carried the fight to the enemy, destroying three more pill boxes before he was caught in a burst of Japanese shell fire and mortally wounded. His relentless fighting spirit in the face of formidable opposition and his exceptionally daring tactics were an inspiration to his comrades during the most crucial phase of the battle and reflect the highest credit upon the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
(per https://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/guy-named-hawkins)

Uploaded on 07.30.2014 by El Paso Museum of History

Accession no: 013-1983-014

Out of Area / Out of Area, (1940 - 1949), Meet El Pasoans

  • Wlliam D. Hawkins
  • 1943
  • comgressional medal of honor
  • El Paso High
  • Military

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First Lieutenant William Deane Hawkins - El Paso, Texas

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