HAWKINS, EDGAR LEE
Rank / Branch:
MAJOR, AIR FORCE
Date of Birth:
204300N 1033700E UJ5
BODY NOT RETURNED
Awards & Decorations:
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EDGAR LEE HAWKINS, MAJOR, U.S. AIR FORCE, LAMESA, DAWSON COUNTY, TEXAS
AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Air Force Aviator Wings, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Air Medal, Air Force Commendation's Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal
Edgar Lee Hawkins was born in Deaf Smith County Texas with the county seat being Hereford, Texas. He was the son of Annie Rae Atchley and W. E. Hawkins. His family moved to the Key community southeast of Lamesa, Texas where they farmed. Edgar attended schools in Lamesa. He was very athletic and played center on the football team and was a distance man on the track team. He graduated from Lamesa High School in 1947 and then attended and graduated from Texas Tech College in 1951. At Tech, he was in the Air Force ROTC, ran track and was Vice President of the Double T Club. He was commissioned a 2LT Air Force upon graduation and he began flight school. After finishing flight school, he flew the F-105 Thunderchiefs. Due to the length of his flight training, he missed the Korean War. He elected to make a career out of the Air Force.
In 1965. Capt. Hawkins was assigned as a fighter pilot to the 67th Tactical Fighter Squandron, 6234th Tactical Fighter Wing, 13th Air Force and he was stationed at Korat Air Force Base in Thailand. His unit was flying missions into Laos and North Vietnam.
SYNOPSIS: The principle Air Force tactical strike aircraft during the Vietnam War was the Republic F105 Thunderchief, nicknamed a "Thud.". Mass-produced after the Korean War, it served throughout Southeast Asia, particularly during Rolling Thunder operations.
On 20 September 1965, then Capt. Edgar L. Hawkins was the pilot of the #2 aircraft in a flight of two, call sign "Elm 2," that departed Korat Airbase on a strike/armed reconnaissance mission, identifier "Rolling Thunder 32C-4." Elm flight's intended target were a military storage area and a bridge located in the extremely rugged mountains approximately 6 miles north of the Vietnamese/Lao border, 12 miles southwest of Bang Bang and 47 miles southeast of Dien Bien Phu.
Further, this area of northwestern North Vietnam was considered a major stronghold used by the communists to move men and material by the North Vietnamese throughout this region and into Northern Laos. While sometimes no more than paths cut through jungle-covered mountains, US forces used all assets available to stop the communists from moving men and supplies throughout this region.
At 1030 hours, the Elm flight spotted the bridge and Capt. Hawkins followed Elm 1 in for a rocket attack on it from a base leg altitude of 7,000 to 8,000 feet with a dive angle of 30 degrees. The flight leader saw Capt. Hawkins' rocket fire, but could not be sure of his wingman's altitude because of the recovery angle of his own aircraft. Elm 1 then observed Edgar Hawkins rotate for recovery as his aircraft crossed the river and approached the mountain on the other side. As he continued to watch Elm 2, Lead saw him clip the tops of trees, throw up a stream of dirt and then explode as the Thunderchief slid along the ground.
In his debriefing, the flight leader said he did not see an ejection, but probably could not have seen Capt. Hawkins eject in any event as he was at least 3 miles away at the time. The pilot of Elm 1 tried repeatedly to raise the downed pilot on his emergency radio, but no voice contact could be established. Likewise, no emergency beeper signal was heard. By the time search and rescue (SAR) aircraft arrived on station to conduct an electronic search, the weather conditions had deteriorated to poor at best. Because of the intense enemy presence in the region, no close visual inspection of the Thunderchief's crash site was possible. The Air Force believed there were ample circumstances by which Edgar Hawkins was able to safely eject and parachute into an area where capture could have easily occurred. Because there was a reasonable change for survival, Edgar Hawkins was immediately listed him Missing in Action.
Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.
Fighter pilots in Vietnam and Laos were called upon to fly in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.
Edgar Lee Hawkins was meritorously promoted to Major.
Memorial Headstone in Lamesa Memorial Garden's Cemetery