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BOC family,
I would like to tell you all about a Hero of mine. I dont know yet how long this post will end up being since I am typing this as it comes to me. I can only ask that you read this post through to the end at some point.

I would like to tell you about my grandfather (on my dad's side). My relationship to him has always been limited throughout my life since my dad left my mom and I when I was very young. My grandfather has always attempted to be in my life but as many times as I have seen him, things just always seemed awkward and too uncomfortable.

Many years after I joined the Marine Corps, I took my wife and first two children home to Cleveland, Ohio to meet him. On this particular visit, he began to talk to me in a manner that I had never heard from him. He opened up to me and began talking about his younger days and told me that he was actually in the military. This was the first time that I had seen him since I became a Marine. Not only was he in the military, but he also had participated in the landing at Iwo Jima!! At first I was a bit skeptical because I am the first Marine ever in my family (both grandfathers were in the Army, a few uncles in the Navy and even one in the Air Force). All Marines are taught all about that battle. Never had I been taught anything about other branches of the military being there.

May grandfather was with the 471st amphibious truck unit which was a "***** unit" operating in a different Army at a different time. His job was to deliver guns and fresh ammunition from the Navy ships to the Marine's on land. During the assault, on one mission his DUKw (amphibious truck) was riddled with bullet holes as he tried to make way to the shore. Instead of abandoning his truck and its cargo that he knew were desparately needed, he decided to stay with the truck and get as close to shore as possible before it sank. Before his truck sank, my grandfather was rescued by a passing Naval vessel along with his cargo and taken back to his ship. Once there, he transferred his cargo to another DUKw and went back out. On his second attempt, he found the defending fire to be so thick that he ran out of fuel while searching for a spot to reach shore safely. Again he was picked up and taken back to his ship. After taking a third DUKw out, he finally got ashore and delivered his cargo.

My grandfather was awarded for his actions that day. He showed me his medals and he even gave me a copy of an article that was printed from back then in his home town news paper. In addition, he also showed me a unit citation that the 471st along with other "***** units" recieved many years after the war when black units began to be viewed in a more civil manner by the Army.

Im telling you all this story because my grandfather, William Hugh Hawkins, passed away yesterday as a result of a massive stroke he suffered. I cannot tell you that I am hurting very much because we had such a distant relationship. While I will never know very much about him, I do know that I am very proud to be his grandson. Today my family on that side are traveling from as far as California for the funeral services. I am not going to go. I have been assigned to operational commitments here in Arizona anyhow. I pray that he will understand.

I would imagine that the number of remaining survivors from Iwo Jima grows smaller each passing year. If you have made it though to the end of this post, I thank you for reading a little about a hero of mine. God bless you all.
 

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Great post Dameon. Thanks for sharing a bit of yourself and your family history. Thanks for your service, and your grandfather's as well. Remember his story, and pass it down to your children, and grandchildren. Thats how hero's are honored best. God bless.
 

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Damion, Sounds like your grandfather was a great person. You are very lucky to have had him be a part of you and your history. My condolences to you and the family/friends for your loss. Thanks for sharing his/your story with us.
 

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Hey Dameon..thanks a lot for sharing that story. I certainly send my deepest condolences for you and your family. I am glad that he was able to share that story with you and you got to know a little more about him.
 

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Thanks for sharing that Dameon...great story and my condolences to your family. My grandfather was also a Marine on Iwo Jima. The stories he has and the look in his eyes when he tells them is incredible. Yesterday my mom told me he has a bad heart valve that cannot be repaired and doctors give him maybe a year...How I am gonna miss that man...he pretty much raised me, taught me to fish and included me in everything he did as a kid. He actually always steered me towards the Coast Guard or the Air Force growing up, said he didn't want me to go through the things he did. I ended up in the Air Force and retired but I have a deep love and appreciation for the USMC. Thanks for your service and all your brothers.
 

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Daemon, sorry for your loss!!!! Thank you for sharing your family with us! My PRAYERS continue to be with you, and your family! I know there`s a vary proud Grandpa sitting with JESUS right now! Peace to you my friend! Kevin
 

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For telling us about your GrandFather. You have my condolences. You wrote a wonderful tribute to him,and I'm positive he was and is very proud of the man you have become. You are one of many hero's to me because you serve and protect this Country of ours the USA. When I go to sleep at night, I am very grateful to God for you and people just like you all over the world.Again let me say I am deeply sorry for your loss.~~~~Sister Pat:sad2:
 

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I'm sorry for your loss Dameon. He must have been a hell of a man to risk death three times to get the job done. Keep telling the story. We are losing our hero's from WWII real fast now, and their stories have to be told. I was lucky enough to have worked with a lot of Grandfathers at a retirement home. Some of them rarely if ever got to see family members to pass their stories on to. I would sit a listen to them talk for hours. Most of them have an unwritten book inside them that they have carried around for years. They were truly a Band of Brothers.
 

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Daemon, You are in my prayers. What a tribute to him you have posted here, thanks for sharing it. His story is certainly a courageous one. Your descriptive words "Fallen Hero" are most appropriate.
 

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Let peace be with you and your family.
Its something how the stories your grandfather told you gained your respect for him. Likewise the stories you told about him have gained my respect for you...sb
Peace
 

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I'm sorry for your loss, be thankful for the last visit you had, and thank God that he went fast instead of a lot of small strokes which kill slowly. I'm thankful for people like him, dedicated, committed, determined. Where would we be without them? There are a few, such as yourself, who follow them and honor them by doing what needs to be done. Semper Fi
 
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