Remembering John ‘Bud’ Hawk, Another WWII Hero (1924-2013)

(Left) John "Bud" Hawk at the time when President Truman presented him the Medal of Honor; (Right) the WWII Vet in his later years.
(Left) John “Bud” Hawk at the time when President Truman presented him the Medal of Honor; (Right) the WWII Vet in his later years.

America had lost another of its true heroes — John ‘Bud’ hawk who served during WWII and was a recipient of a Medal of Honor passed away last November 4 at the age of 89 in Bremerton, Washington where he worked as a school teacher and principal for quite some time.

Hawk never exalted himself and his heroic efforts during WWII when he was assigned int he French countryside in August of 1944. However, he did speak of his experiences often and used them to teach the kids through the years he had served as a school teacher in Bremerton.

“The worst thing that can happen to a human being is to have to take the life of another human being,” Hawk said when he was interviewed in a video for the war feat that earned him the Medal of Honor.  “You will never, ever, forget it.”

His WWII Heroic Feats

John Hawk had made a decision to join the army, that college education can wait but his country can’t, in the height of WWII in 1943. By August 20 the next year, Hawk was a sergeant in Company E of the 359th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division. He was heading a machine-gun squad.

He and his troops were defending the Falaise Pocket to prevent the Germans from retreating out of France when he found himself hunting the enemy’s tanks down an apple orchard.

“I didn’t see the one tank so he shot me through the apple tree. To me, it was like getting hit with a sledgehammer. I couldn’t tell if I had a broken leg or no leg or what. It knocked me flat. I’m either done or I can run like hell and boy I took off out of there like you wouldn’t believe,” he recalled.

Hawk, who was 20 years old at that time, came across one soldier who had a bazooka with him as he was running so, in spite of his wounded leg, he aided that soldier in loading the weapon, sited the enemy and fired away. he also ordered his other squad members to make a functioning gun out of their broken ones.

Afterwards, when he saw that the American tanks were having trouble sighting the German tanks, he placed himself in the middle of the battlefield to serve as an aiming post for the American gunners.

“You’re not thinking, really, of the consequences. You’re trying to think of a solution. If you were standing in the middle, you could see both ways. I said, ‘If I line you up will you shoot and then we’ll correct,'” he stated.

US tanks fired over the sergeant’s head taking out a number of German tanks; in the end, Hawk’s stunt forced the surrender of some 500 German soldiers.

However, he refused to leave his unit to be treated in a hospital for his wounds and instead, chose to be treated in the field. After he has recovered, he pressed his march into Germany and was injured in the Battle of the Bulge before he returned home.

He was presented by then US President Harry Truman with the Medal of Honor on July 13, 1945. Aside from that, he earned four Purple Hearts throughout his military career in the Second World War.

Life after the War

After the war, hawk went to the University of Washington and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology. For over thirty years, he went on to become a teacher and a principal the Central Kitsap School District.

A training center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord as well as a Bainbridge Island Post office were named in honor of him.

When people as him about his service during WWII, he would always answer them with these words:

 “Two words I’m not fond of, Hero, and the other one is winner. There are no winners in a war.”

Well, they may be no winners in war but in a challenge called “life” there are and John “Bud” Hawk was one. 

– reports; Additional notes from Wikipedia and Youtube

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE