SFC Larry Hawks Presented With Second Highest Military Award In Army
Darren Doyle, story:
Edmonson County native Army Ret. MSgt. Larry Hawks, originally from Wingfield, was recently presented the Distinguished Service Cross Award, the second highest military honor that is awarded by the U.S. Army.
Hawks received the award in a ceremony on June 21st at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School Auditorium in Fort Bragg, North Carolina for gallantry under fire as a member of 3rd Special Forces Group on July 24 and July 25, 2005, in Afghanistan.
“Sgt. 1st Class Hawks, while conducting armed reconnaissance of a town, came under intense enemy small arms, rocket propelled grenade, and mortar fire," the citation reads, according to a U.S. Army release. “While moving to interdict enemy combatants attempting to reposition themselves on the high ground west of the village, he discovered one of his comrades was pinned down by enemy fire. Sgt. 1st Class Hawks, without regard for his own safety dismounted from his vehicle and charged toward the enemy position on the high ground. Under continuous fire, he engaged and neutralized the enemy position.”
We spoke with Hawks earlier today about the incident that took place nearly 14 years ago.
"Right off the bat, we knew the bad guys were moving to the high ground and our thought process was, if we don't get these guys before they get there, and we're trying to clear this town, we're going to have guys up above us, shooting at us all day," he said.
"This town wasn't really a town in a traditional sense. They didn't have roads. It was more like mud huts in a village on the other side of a river. It was kinda back into the mountains, and we're coming in on four-wheelers, not big armored vehicles. We're riding through rocks on top of rocks, it's jagged and we can't go very fast. We found this ditch, or it's called a 'waddi' for cover, and we came up out of it, a guy behind me came up and all hell broke loose--the whole town exploded in gunfire."
It was gunfire that he said lasted 14 straight hours, from about 80 enemies that were only about 20 yards away.
"They were close enough you could've hit 'em with a football and they were giving us everything they had."
When asked how does one keep from getting shot to pieces by 80 bad guys at only 20 yards, Hawks replied with a chuckle, "I guess God's got a sense of humor."
Hawks said he was able to get his ATV out of immediate fire when he heard a fellow soldier call for help.
"I heard him say 'man, they got me, I'm pinned down,' I just jumped on the radio and said 'hey, I'm coming brother.' So I grabbed my machine gun and an extra 600 rounds of ammo."
Hawks was still under fire at this point but he said he knew he had to try to provide aid for his friend.
"When I get there, I see my buddy and he's off his four-wheeler and crawled up in a ditch where he could get out of immediate fire and return some fire, but he's just one guy. I could see the ones firing, they were just basically trying to hold his attention and I could see they were laughing about it. I was able to get some high ground and I could see down the entire ambush line. I took my machine gun and went to work. That changed their mind right there. They didn't know where the fire was coming from, but they knew it was bad."
Hawks said for about the first 20 minutes, it was just three good guys against everybody, but a soon after, a couple of gun trucks arrived, then Apache helicopters, then more help finally came, with Hawks serving as the makeshift air controller in the 114 degree temperatures.
U.S. forces eventually took care of the "bad guys," which were a mixture of Taliban fighters and other assorted enemies of the USA, Hawks said.
When asked about receiving the award and participating in the ceremony, Hawks was relatively quiet.
"I didn't think it was a big deal," he said with a laugh. " I mean, I know it's a big deal, but you know, I didn't expect to get anything. I had one of my guys that needed some help so I gave him a hand."
Which is true; however, it was a 'hand' that resulted in 90 enemy kills, 17 surrenders, and the life saved of Hawks' friend.
In addition to the DSC Award, Hawks has also been awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Southwest Asia Service Medal with 2 stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia), Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait), Special Forces tab, Ranger tab, Combat Infantry Badge, HALO Jumpmaster Badge, Static Line Jumpmaster and the Excellence in Combat Marksmanship Badge Bronze.
He is a 1988 graduate of Edmonson County High School and enlisted in the Army immediately after graduating at age 17. His first duty station was with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he served four years and deployed to Panama, the Sinai, Egypt, and Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm all with 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
In 1992, Hawks was assigned to the XVIII Airborne Corps Long Range Surveillance Company where he served in every position from scout, up to platoon sergeant.
He then attended Army Special Forces Qualification Course and subsequently became an 18C, or engineer sergeant.
He currently resides in Salemburg, North Carolina with his family. He is the son of Tonie and Patsey Hawks of Wingfield.