Deo volente.

Remember our Heroes – Dean Hawkins

If you don’t know about William Dean Hawkins, you should …

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 machineguns, 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 3 more pillboxes before he was caught in a burst of Japanese shellfire and mortally wounded.

My uncle remembers Dean as a boy in El Paso. His father left when he was very young. He was a sickly kid who was seriously burned by a nursemaid when he was only a baby. The story goes that his mother wouldn’t give up on him then, even after being told by the doctors that he would probably die. He wasn’t a big kid at all – maybe 5’6 or 5’7. He went into the Marines as a private, and was promoted through battlefield promotions, receiving a battlefield commission to become a first lieutenant.

Tarawa was a vicious battle. An island in the Gilbert Islands, it served as a strategic base for the Japanese. It was situated such that the American island hopping campaign was dependent on it being taken. Thus, it was an early opportunity for America to take the offensive in the central Pacific.

The landing area was flanked by a long pier which was fortified with pillboxes and machine gun nests. The pier is in the middle of the picture to the left. The black dots below it are landing craft … when the marines hit the beach, they were exposed to withering fire from the entrenched troops in the jungle and the troops on the pier.

After taking the pier and moving into the jungle, Hawkins took a round in the chest. They offered to evacuate him, but he refused, returning to lead his men the next day. He died November 21, 1943.

God bless him.

In memory of my father.


November 11, 2006 - Posted by | Leaders of the West, The West


  1. […] I’d like you to meet Dean Hawkins, MOH recepient from theΒ  Battle of Tarawa in 1943. He overcame long odds and defines for me what is the Greatest Generation. […]

    Pingback by They were soldiers once … and young. « AnalogKid | November 11, 2006 | Reply

  2. […] I’d like you to meet Dean Hawkins, MOH recepient from the Battle of Tarawa in 1943. He overcame long odds and defines for me what is the Greatest Generation. […]

    Pingback by They were « Innocent Bystanders | November 11, 2006 | Reply

  3. […] Analog Kid has an excellent post here. […]

    Pingback by Veterans Day « Elzbth | November 11, 2006 | Reply

  4. this guy is ammazing. he is a true american. he deserved the MOH.

    Comment by terry | February 5, 2007 | Reply

  5. Hello

    Great book. I just want to say what a fantastic thing you are doing! Good luck!


    Comment by tovorinok | July 5, 2007 | Reply

  6. Acceptation says : I absolutely agree with this !

    Comment by acceptation | June 3, 2008 | Reply

  7. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation πŸ™‚ Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Sextuple.

    Comment by Sextuple | June 19, 2008 | Reply

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