Col. Thomas Brittain, right, and Marilyn Harrelson unveil a plaque dedicated to Harrelson's father, Medal of Honor recipient John D. "Bud" Hawk, Aug. 19 at the Army education center named in his honor.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- John D. "Bud" Hawk fought hard and earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War II, but the thing he is most proud of is neither the medal nor his heroic actions. He takes the most pride in being an educator.

On Aug. 19, the Joint Base Lewis-McChord community recognized Hawk for both his service in the military and to the community with a dedication ceremony. A new education center on JBLM Lewis North was named after Hawk, an 87-year-old former Army sergeant who was awarded the nation's highest military decoration for his role in the battle of the Falaise Pocket near Chambois, France. The ceremony came one day before the 67th anniversary of the heroic actions that led him to receive the award.

Armed with only a light machine gun, Hawk was wounded in the leg on Aug. 20, 1944 during a German counterattack, but he continued to fight.

His weapon damaged, he found another and exposed himself to enemy forces to direct anti-tank fire onto German positions.

Hawk recovered from his wounds and continued to serve in combat. By the end of the war, he had received four Purple Hearts, and on July 13, 1945, President Harry Truman presented him with the Medal of Honor.

Among those attending last week's dedication ceremony were fellow Medal of Honor recipients Joe Jackson, Wilburn Ross, Bruce Crandall and Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry -- the most recent awardee. Hawk intended to be present at the education center dedication, but was forced to remain at home when he fell ill. His daughter, Marilyn Harrelson, spoke on his behalf to a packed auditorium.

"This is the greatest honor for him," Harrelson said of the center dedication. "He has always said that the thing he is most proud of is being an educator, and so to know there is something devoted to education for him is very meaningful."

After his military service ended in 1945, Hawk used his GI Bill education benefits and enrolled at the University of Washington, from which he graduated with a bachelor's degree in biology. He began his teaching career in 1952 with the Kitsap School District, working for more than 30 years as a teacher and eventual elementary school principal. He worked hard to help develop the Parent-Teacher Student Association at Brownsville Elementary, where he taught for 10 years before becoming its principal. He was also recognized for his work with the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce to gain support for the military community.

Garrison Commander Col. Thomas Brittain said the community could not have chosen a better name for the center. The community is ensuring Hawk's service will continue, he said, by naming it the "John 'Bud' Hawk Education Center."

"This education center will offer opportunities to continue lifelong learning," Brittain said. "It will be inspiring to new generations of servicemembers and Family (members) through his example -- both in his military service and in his service to his community as a professional educator."

Harrelson said her father's commitment to both lasted well past retirement. He made the most of opportunities that arose as a result of his military and teaching experiences, never passing up a chance to share or educate.

"Even after he retired, he could never say 'no' to a school program that he was asked to speak at," Harrelson said. "One of his very favorite things was coming here to Joint Base Lewis-McChord to speak to the young military personnel."

Harrelson carefully selected dozens of memorabilia from her father's military service and years as an educator for displays inside the center's main entryway.

The John "Bud" Hawk Education Center is scheduled to open for classes in October.

Laura M. Levering: laura.may.levering@us.army.mil

Page last updated Thu August 25th, 2011 at 16:59