1st Lt. William Dean Hawkins, USMCR
U.S. Marine Corps, Scout Sniper Platoon
Born: April 19, 1914 Fort Scott, Kansas
Hawkins the commanding officer of a Scout Sniper Platoon attached to the
Assault Regiment. On November 20, 1943 Hawkins participated in the amphibious landing at Tarawa (Betio) and attacked under heavy fire neutralizing emplacements and covering the Marines. On November 21, 1943 at dawn, he was wounded in the chest but refused to be withdrawn and continued attacking until mortally wounded. Later, he posthumous earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.
Afterwards, Tarawa Airfield was renamed "Hawkins Field" in his honor.
Medal of Honor Citation Posthumous
"20 - 21 November 1943: For valorous and gallant conduct above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of a Scout Sniper Platoon attached to the Assault Regiment in action against Japanese-held Tarawa in the Gilbert Island, 20 and 21 November 1943. The first to disembark from the jeep lighter, 1st Lt. Hawkins unhesitatingly moved forward under heavy enemy fire at the end of the Betio Pier, neutralizing emplacements in coverage of troops assaulting the main beach 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 pillboxes and installations with grenades and demolitions. At dawn on the following day, 1st Lt. Hawkins resumed the dangerous mission of clearing the limited beachhead of Japanese resistance, personally initiating an assault on a hostile position fortified by S enemy machine guns, and, crawling forward in the face of withering fire, boldly fired pointblank into the loopholes and completed the destruction with grenades. Refusing to withdraw after being seriously wounded in the chest during this skirmish, 1st Lt. Hawkins steadfastly carried the fight to the enemy, destroying three more pillboxes before he was caught in a burst of Japanese shellfire and mortally wounded. His relentless fighting spirit in the face of formidable opposition and his exceptionally daring tactics served as an inspiration to his comrades during the most crucial phase of the battle and reflect the highest credit upon the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country."
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