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A Local Hero Highlighted

- A Local Hero Highlighted -

Captain Arthur Ray Hawkins

United States Navy

Submitted by Burl Smithhart

About three of four years ago I was reading a book by Laura Hillenbrand (also the author of the book “Sea Biscuit”, the racehorse). She authored a recent book titled “Unbroken” which is the World War II story of Louis Zamperini who was an Olympic Track Star and Japanese prisoner of War. It was a very well written and excellent book. It was later made into a movie produced by Angelina Jolie and from my view point after reading the book, the moving was a total “flop”.

Towards the end of the book Laura describes that...”Right after the war the navy pilots were tasked to fly over Japan looking for prisoner of war camps which I think were marked in some way. The pilot who discovered and flew over Zamperini’s camp was a pilot, who dropped a note with candy in it that said “help was on the way - Lt. JG Ray Hawkins, Lufkin, Texas”. Naturally I Googled his name and discovered that he was not from Lufkin but was really from Zavalla, Texas! You can Google his name and find that he was a remarkable person and a great American Hero.

I was so impressed with this man that I thought the readers of this newspaper might enjoy reading a little biography on this remarkable local hero.

Captain Arthur Ray Hawkins

United States Navy

From the Office of Information

Internal Relations Division (OI-430)

31 MAY 1966

Arthur Ray Hawkins was born in Zavalla, Texas on December 12, 1922, the son of Alva M. and Gillie B. (Russell) Hawkins, both now deceased. He attended Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, T3exas and in 1939-1940 was an aerial photographer for the American Automobile Association mapping the states. On April 29, 1942 he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve as Seaman, second class. He had cadet training at the Naval Air Stations in Dallas and Corpus Christi, Texas and was designated Naval Aviator and commissioned Ensign, to date from January 1, 1943. He subsequently transferred to the U.S. Navy in 1946 and advanced to the rank of Captain, to date from July 1, 1963.

From January to April 1943 he had operational training at the Naval Air Station in Miami, Florida after which he served as Navigator and Gunnery Officer of Fighting Squadron THIRTY ONE, based on the USS CABOT (CVL-28). As such he participated in all naval engagements from the Marshall Islands operations to the fall of the Japanese Empire. He was credited with shooting down fourteen enemy aircraft, sinking various enemy ships and assisting in the sinking of the Japanese battleship ISE.

For heroism and outstanding service during World War II, he was awarded the Navy Cross and Gold Stars in lieu of two additional awards, the Distinguished Flying Cross and Gold Stars in lieu of the second and third similar awards; and the Air Medal with two Gold Stars. He is also entitled to the Ribbon for with star, and facsimiles of the Presidential Unit Citations awarded for the USS CABOT and the USS BELLEAU WOOD.

He was released to inactive duty status in October 1945, and upon his transfer to the U.S. Navy a year later, reported to the USS PORTSMOUTH. He served as Senior Aviator of that cruiser until May 1948, and four fourteen months thereafter was attached to the Naval Air Stations, Jacksonville, Florida and Corpus Christi, Texas, assigned to the “Blue Angels”. He next served July 1950 to August 1951 as Executive Officer of Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED NINETY ONE, based on the USS PRINCETON, which participated in the Korean Conflict. The PRINCETON was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation, and he was personally awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the Fourth Air Medal for meritorious achievement during nine months of that period.

Returned to Corpus Christi in August 1951, he was Commanding Officer of the “Blue Angels” until April 1954 and when detached, reported to the General Line School, Monterey, California, where he was a student for six months. From October 1954 until September 1956 he was assigned as Operations and Projects Officer of Experimental Squadron FIVE, attached first to the Naval Air Station, Moffett Field, California, later to the Naval Air Facility, China Lake. In September 1956 he reported to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department in Washington D.C. where he was Technical Advisor for Naval Operations films in the Progress Analysis Group.

In March 1957 he assumed command of Attack Squadron FORTY SIX and from September 1958 to January 1960 served as Air Officer on board the USS FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (CVA-42). Following instructions at the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia, he assumed command in June 1960 of Carrier Air Group ONE. Assigned in August 1961 to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, he served as Head of the Program Planning Division until July 1964 and the next month reported for instruction at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. In June 1965 he became Commanding Officer of the USS CALOOSAHATCHEE (AO-98) and in May 1966 was detached for duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval operations.

In addition to the Navy Cross with two Gold Stars; the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Gold Stars, the Air Medal with three Gold Stars, the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon (two awards) and the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, Captain Hawkins has the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, with eleven operations stars; American Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal; China Service Medal (extended); National Defense Service Medal; Korean Service Medal with three stars; United Nations Service Medal; Korean Presidential Unit citation and the Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal.

He is married to the former Vivian L. Hussey of Guilford, Maine. Captain Hawkins has three children, Raymond Guy, Michael Gregory and Jennifer J. Hawkins. His official home address is Zavalla, Texas.

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