There have been 52 winners of the Medal of Honor (awarded to people in the United States military) that have served in a medical capacity. Fifteen of these medals were awarded posthumously. To commerorate Memorial Day, the story of one of these heroes is below:
Lloyd Cortes Hawks was born January 13, 1911 in Becker, Minnesota. At the age of eight, he moved with his family to Michigan. After graduating from high
school, he returned to his native Minnesota. In 1940, he enlisted in Army but was soon released as it was felt that he was too old and unfit to ever serve in combat. In 1942, with the United States now firmly entrenched in both theatres of World War II, he was called back into the army as a medical aid man. He was sent with his unit (30th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division) to Italy. His unit saw fierce combat and Hawks proved himself a brave and capable medic, winning the Silver Star for heroic actions in December, 1943. His military medals would eventually include two oak leaf clusters on his silver star and a bronze star with oak leaf cluster.
But, it was on January 30, 1944 near Carano, Italy that his actions under combat earned him the Medal of Honor. His unit was out on patrol when they came under heavy machine gun and mortar fire. Two infantry men ahead of him were critically injured and lay motionless just 30 yards from a German machine gun nest. An aid man (medic) closer to the wounded soldiers had attempted a rescue but was himself severely injured. Two rifleman then tried to reach the three wounded men ahead but were forced to turn back under fire.
It was at this time that Pfc. Hawks crawled 50 yards under withering automatic fire to the wounded aid man. After giving aid and tending to his fellow medic’s wounds, Hawks then crawled another 50 yards to the motionless wounded infantrymen. Halfway to the wounded troopers, Hawks helmet was struck by machine gun fire and knocked off his head. While he lay momentarily dazed, his helmet laying next to his head was pierced with 13 bullets. Regaining his senses, Hawks crawled onward toward the wounded troopers, first treating the most seriously wounded man. Then helmetless and under continous fire, he dragged this solider 30 yards to a mortar crater and relative cover.
He then crawled back to treat the second wounded soldier. As he was reaching for bandages in his pack, his right hip was shattered from machine gun fire and then seconds later his left forearm was shredded from a mortar blast. He pressed on, using his right arm to bandage the trooper. Despite his wounds, he managed (still helmetless) to drag the second soldier to the mortar crater where the first soldier had been placed.
Hawks, realizing that this crater was not large enough to protect three men from enemy fire, left the two wounded men in the relative safety of the earthen depression and crawled yet once again under heavy fire back to the where he had left his fellow medic.
For these actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by Franklin Roosevelt on January 10, 1945. The medal was placed around his neck by his niece Phyllis Hawks, a Navy Wave.
While he lay in an Army Hospital recovering from his wounds, he received a letter of encouragement and support from one Cora Marian Torkelson. Back in the states, an acquaintenance led to romance and they were married on January 13, 1946. The couple had three children – Leroy, David, and Charlotte.
Hawks chose to remain in the Army after the war, working his way up to the rank of Technical Sergeant First Class. Hawks, despite an initial Army assessment that he was not fit enough to serve in combat, showed an almost superhuman physical effort and courage in saving the lives of his three comrades.
Ironically, he died in 1953 at the age of 42 of a heart attack.
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