John D. Hawk

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John Druse Hawk
John D. Hawk, Medal of Honor recipient
Nickname(s) "Bud"
Born (1924-05-30)May 30, 1924
San Francisco, California
Died November 4, 2013(2013-11-04) (aged 89)
Bremerton, Washington
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1943 - 1945
Rank Sergeant
Unit 2nd Battalion, 359th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War II
 • Falaise pocket
Awards Medal of Honor
Purple Heart (4)

John Druse "Bud" Hawk (May 30, 1924 − November 4, 2013) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in World War II during the battle of the Falaise pocket.


Hawk was born in San Francisco, California,[1] and grew up in the Rolling Bay area of Bainbridge Island, Washington.[2] He graduated from Bainbridge High School in 1943 and joined the Army two weeks later from Bremerton, Washington.[3]

By August 20, 1944, Hawk was serving in Europe as a sergeant in Company E, 359th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division. During a German counterattack on that day, near Chambois, France, he was wounded in the right thigh while taking cover behind a tree. A German shell had penetrated the tree trunk. ("French apple trees aren't worth a darn," he said in 1994.) [4] Hawk continued to fight and, in order to direct the shots of friendly tank destroyers, he willingly exposed himself to intense enemy fire. For his actions during the battle, he was issued the Medal of Honor on July 13, 1945.[1] The medal was formally presented to him by President Harry Truman.[2][5]

Hawk recovered from his wounds and continued to serve in combat. He was wounded three more times before the end of the war, earning a total of four Purple Hearts.[6]

In 1945, Hawk returned from the war and then attended the University of Washington, graduating with a bachelor's degree in biology. For more than thirty years he worked as a teacher and principal in the Central Kitsap School District.[6]

On April 5, 2008, Hawk received the Medal of Honor flag in the Capitol rotunda in Olympia, Washington. He was presented the flag by Brigadier General Gordon Toney, commander of the Washington Army National Guard.[7] Hawk said of his Medal of Honor:

"What I did was not such a big thing. I never did anything more than the people I served with. The [Medal of Honor] is a symbol and it stands for service, everybody's service. I did it for the people who were there and they were doing the same thing for me."[7]

He died on November 4, 2013 at the age of 89.[8]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Sergeant Hawk's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

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 Pocket and for taking more than 500 prisoners.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Medal of Honor recipients - World War II (G–L)". United States Army Center of Military History. July 16, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  2. ^ a b Sooter, Tad (March 17, 2009). "Bill to rename Rolling Bay Post Office passes House of Representatives". The Bainbridge Island Review. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  3. ^ "Bill would rename Rolling Bay Post Office building in honor of war hero". The Bainbridge Island Review. March 10, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  4. ^ Chawkins, Steve (November 12, 2013). "Passages: Hawk modest about bravery". The Providence Journal. 
  5. ^ President on Tour, 1945/06/25. Universal Newsreels. 1945. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Baurick, Tristan (March 18, 2009). "U.S. House OKs Renaming Bainbridge Post Office for War Hero". Kitsap Sun (Bremerton, Washington). Archived from the original on May 30, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b Friedrich, Ed (2008-04-07). "War Hero John Hawk Receives Medal of Honor Flag". Kitsap Sun. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  8. ^