Veteran's WWII Medal of Honor ceremony will be today in Park Rapids
A World War II Medal of Honor recipient is being honored by local military organizations in a ceremony this Friday, May 18.
A new monument will be unveiled at the gravesite of Lloyd C. Hawks, who is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Park Rapids.
Dave "Lefty" Anderson, historian for the Park Rapids American Legion Post 212, and organizer for the event, said he's expecting a significant turnout for the event.
"I've heard there could be 300 Patriot Guard members in attendance on their motorcycles," he said.
The idea for the memorial came after Anderson discovered Hawks' gravesite when he was doing an inventory of veterans buried in Greenwood Cemetery. Although Hawks had received the Medal of Honor, along with many other military decorations, there were no markings indicating these awards at his grave.
After contacting family members to get permission to hold a dedication, he began organizing a dedication and having a new monument constructed to honor the WW II veteran. The monument will include a photo of Hawks wearing his Medal of Honor and a listing of his other medals, which include the Italian Medal of Valor, the Silver Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster and the Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf Clusters. The reverse side of the monument will include an inscription on the back of how he earned the Medal of Honor.
Hawks joined the U.S. Army from Park Rapids and was quickly deployed to Europe. Hawks reached the rank of Sergeant First Class. The Medal of Honor was given to him Jan. 15, 1945 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for heroism in battle on Jan. 30, 1944 near Carano, Italy. He continued to serve in the Army until his death on Oct. 26, 1953.
The ceremony will begin at 2:30 p.m. Friday, May 18 at Greenwood Cemetery in Park Rapids. Hawks' daughter, Charlotte Hawks Kearn and his grandson, Dustin Kearn, will be in attendance. After the ceremony people will head to the American Legion to complete the dedication.
The Patriot Guard will be in attendance along with the local Honor Guard. Other Honor Guards and military organizations have been invited and the public is welcome at the event.
Dave Traxler is commander of the local Honor Guard and is organizing the ceremony.
Brigadier General Neal G. Loidolt and Major General Larry Shellito will be attending the ceremony and will speak after the dedication at the American Legion about the significance of the Medal of Honor and how someone receives the honor. A dinner will be served as a fundraiser at 4:30 p.m. to pay for the monument and other expenses.
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States. It is bestowed by the President upon members of the U.S. Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.
The citation for Hawks' Medal of Honor reads as follows:
"For gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. On 30 January 1944, at 3 p.m., near Carano, Italy, Pfc. Hawks braved an enemy counterattack in order to rescue 2 wounded men who, unable to move, were lying in an exposed position within 30 yards of the enemy. Two riflemen, attempting the rescue, had been forced to return to their fighting holes by extremely severe enemy machinegun fire, after crawling only 10 yards toward the casualties.
"An aid man, whom the enemy could plainly identify as such, had been critically wounded in a similar attempt. Pfc. Hawks, nevertheless, crawled 50 yards through a veritable hail of machinegun bullets and flying mortar fragments to a small ditch, administered first aid to his fellow aid man who had sought cover therein, and continued toward the 2 wounded men 50 yards distant.
"An enemy machinegun bullet penetrated his helmet, knocking it from his head, momentarily stunning him. Thirteen bullets passed through his helmet as it lay on the ground within 6 inches of his body. Pfc. Hawks crawled to the casualties, administered first aid to the more seriously wounded man and dragged him to a covered position 25 yards distant.
"Despite continuous automatic fire from positions only 30 yards away and shells which exploded within 25 yards, Pfc. Hawks returned to the second man and administered first aid to him. As he raised himself to obtain bandages from his medical kit his right hip was shattered by a burst of machinegun fire and a second burst splintered his left forearm.
"Displaying dogged determination and extreme self-control, Pfc. Hawks, despite severe pain and his dangling left arm, completed the task of bandaging the remaining casualty and with superhuman effort dragged him to the same depression to which he had brought the first man. Finding insufficient cover for 3 men at this point, Pfc. Hawks crawled 75 yards in an effort to regain his company, reaching the ditch in which his fellow aid man was lying."
All are invited to dedicate and honor Hawks for his service May 18.
If someone needs a ride to the Legion, one can be arranged. A bus will transport all World War II veterans from the Legion to the cemetery.
For more information, contact Anderson at 732-4273 or lefty1933@ gmail.com.