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Thread: Private Leroy Hawkins: Return to next of kin his WW I Service (Dog)Tag

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  1. #1
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    Private Leroy Hawkins: Return to next of kin his WW I Service ('Dog')Tag




    Private Leroy T. Hawkins: Found World War I ‘dog tag’ returned to next of kin

    Recently, my French friend, Georges (TN: “dudule 44”) informed me that an American GI’s Service Tag has been found in the area of Saint Nicolas des Eaux, a small town less than 20 miles NE of Lorient, France. The tag belonged to a WW I US soldier, Private Leroy T. Hawkins—but no serial number is shown on the tag.

    Research:

    The Selective Service Act was passed on May 28, 1917. This allowed the United States to draft inductees into the Army. At that time ‘dog tags’ did not have a serial number. It was not until the following year, 1918, that dog tags included a serial number.

    The 149th FA (Field Artillery Regiment) was connected to the 42nd Division. This division was called the "Rainbow" division; perhaps the most famous of all the US WW I divisions. The 149th FA was organized in the State of Illinois and became part of the 1st (?) Army Corps. The 42nd Division was part of that Corps).

    The 42nd Rainbow Division was formed in August 1917 of National Guard units
    from 26 states and the District of Columbia. After Chief of Staff Major
    Douglas MacArthur remarked that the Division "would stretch over the whole
    country like a rainbow," the coalesced national guard units were christened
    ‘Rainbow Division’. As the war progressed Douglas MacArthur was promoted to
    commander of the 84th Brigade and finally to commander of the Rainbow
    Division.
    The Division saw its first action in February 1918 fighting alongside the
    French. The battles continued throughout the following months and on July
    14, 1918 the final German offensive was contained by the 4th French Army, in
    which the Rainbow Division played a prominent role at the famous Battle of
    the Champagne. Many bloody battles and great victories followed until the
    Germans were finally defeated. Battles included those in the Chateau-Thierry
    salient where Rainbow's poet, Joyce Kilmer was killed; St. Mihiel; Verdun
    front and Argonne, where Rainbowmen engaged in the final battle of WW I.
    In the book, Roster of the Rainbow Division (Forty-Second) (1917) there is an entry that states:
    149th Regiment (1st Illinois) Field Artillery, Battery A –
    HAWKINS, LeRoy T., Pvt., 942 Kingdom Ave., Danville, Illinois
    The Federal Census of Danville, Illinois in 1920 listed Private Hawkins at that address:
    Willaim (father) age 48; Maura (wife) age 48, Elsie (daughter) age 24 and LEROY, (son) age 22.
    OUR HERO SURVIVED THE WAR !!! (personal notation)

    The book, "Fighting Men of Illinois - Vermilion County Edition", details all those who served in WW 1 from that county. It includes a picture of each soldier and a very short biography; including Elroy T. Hawkins with the following info:
    942 Kingdom Ave., Danville, Illinois. Born in Danville, Illinois, April 16, 1896. Son of William M. Hawkins and Laura Story Hawkins (wife). Volunteered in 1915, with Battery A, 149th U. S. Field Artillery, 67th Brigade, 42nd Division, (Rainbow Division).

    My letter to that address came back stamped:"Return to Sender, No Such Numbers, Unable to Forward".

    The obit of Laura Story Hawkins (Leroy’s mother) lists a son, Leroy and 4 grand-children, (none of their names are listed). She was preceded in death by her daughter, Mrs. Elsie Hawkins (Leroy’s sister).

    Found the obituary of Leroy Hawkins. It lists 2 daughters----Marilyn; and a daughter Catherine who married a Roy McKinley. I then called a Scott McKinley in Danville and he is related. His father, Everett, and Roy McKinley were brothers.
    A couple more relatives were discovered and will be contacted.



    Recap: Leroy’s family ‘tree’:
    William Hawkins married Laura Story.
    24 years later, they had a daughter, Elsie
    2 years after Elsie was born, their son, Leroy (our man) was born.
    In Leroy's obituary, it is noted he had no sons, only two daughters; Marilyn and Catherine
    Catherine married Roy McKinley.
    Roy had a brother, Everett.
    Everett married and they had a son, Scott.
    Scott is therefore termed as being Leroy's great nephew, 'once removed'.


    Hawkins was a member of the 42nd division. He enlisted in 1915. His division arrived in France in November 1917; they were deactivated 9 May 1919. They fought in combat 264 days of the 450 days (60% of the time) they were in France. 2,058 of their unit were KIA and 12,625 were WIA during those 264 days of combat.

    Re: Leroy Hawkins’ death. He lived in Danville. He had a farm and on one occasion went there to spend a few days. While there he had a heart attack and died (possibly the first day he was there as his bed was never slept in) When he didn't come home his family went to check on him. He had been dead for 3-4 days. They had graveside services for him the next day.
    Both Edith (wife) and Leroy are buried in Springhill Cemetery. He died in 1952 and was buried in the Soldier's Circle; and when Edith died in 1976, they moved his body beside hers in the same cemetery.

    I have contacted a North Carolina group composed of families and descendants of Rainbow Division vets; they have been most helpful. Also of great assistance have been the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts in Danville. The American Legion post commander expressed an interest to include a presentation of this tag to the relatives of Private Hawkins in their Veterans Day ceremony in November. The tag, the story and the list of living relatives would be included with the display which would be permanently housed in the Danville American Legion post facility.

    This past Veterans Day, the ‘award’ ceremony was conducted by the Commandant of the Danville VFW, who will soon furnish me with more info regarding the ceremony. Though there are no remaining survivors for WW I, at least we have been able to create some closure (and perhaps some fond memories) for Private Hawkins’ next of kin.
    Don………
    PS: I’ll post pics of the ID tag, etc. in the near future.
    BigWaveDave likes this.

  2. #2
    us
    Jun 2009
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    Re: Private Leroy Hawkins: Return to next of kin his WW I Service ('Dog')Tag

    Mackaydon,
    All I can say is you are an incredible human being. I was fascinated about your story on the WWII dog tag returned and this one is even more amazing considering how long ago this one was lost.
    Fantastic job on the research and I admire your passion. Not many people would take the time to do such an honorable deed.
    I applaud you sir and vote Honorable Mention.
    Well done!!!

  3. #3
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    Re: Private Leroy Hawkins: Return to next of kin his WW I Service ('Dog')Tag

    Michaelangelo,
    Thanks for the kind words. The first story (returning the dog tag to WW II Sgt. Schueler) was picked up by an independent magazine in France. That triggered the second recover (Private Hawkins tag). I hesitate to think of how many more identifiable items are still "over there", sitting in 'trophy cases' that could be returned to the owner or his kin thereby creating some degree of closure.
    Don....

  4. #4
    us
    Aug 2011
    28

    Re: Private Leroy Hawkins: Return to next of kin his WW I Service ('Dog')Tag

    Quote Originally Posted by Michaelangelo
    Mackaydon,
    All I can say is you are an incredible human being. I was fascinated about your story on the WWII dog tag returned and this one is even more amazing considering how long ago this one was lost.
    Fantastic job on the research and I admire your passion. Not many people would take the time to do such an honorable deed.
    I applaud you sir and vote Honorable Mention.
    Well done!!!
    AMEN TO THAT

  5. #5
    Felinepeachy

    Re: Private Leroy Hawkins: Return to next of kin his WW I Service ('Dog')Tag

    Excellent post and well written. Outstanding Job!!!

  6. #6
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    Re: Private Leroy Hawkins: Return to next of kin his WW I Service ('Dog')Tag

    Kudos once again Don. You're a good man.

  7. #7
    Charter Member
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    Re: Private Leroy Hawkins: Return to next of kin his WW I Service ('Dog')Tag

    Addiing clarity: I had the tag delivered to Carl J. Carpenter, Commander of American Legion Post 210. I asked him to make a presentation of the tag to the next of kin. Because there turned out to be more than one living relative, I requested Commander Carpenter hold the tag in the American Legion post's 'trophy case' as trustee of the tag for the families. I also contacted the Danville VFW and they said they would send reps to the ceremony.
    Don.....

  8. #8
    us
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    Re: Private Leroy Hawkins: Return to next of kin his WW I Service ('Dog')Tag

    OUTSTANDING job.

    Ray S ECenFL

  9. #9
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    Re: Private Leroy Hawkins: Return to next of kin his WW I Service ('Dog')Tag

    That is great that this item was able to be reunited with the family. I found this particularly interesting because my grandfather's twin brothers, Asa and Alva Hickman served in this same unit, 149th regiment 1st Illinois field Artillery Battery A Rainbow Division and are also from Danville, and also featured in the same book. Your info on some of the combat particulars of this unit will be very usefull to me as I am trying to compile some family history.
    Attached Images Attached Images   

  10. #10
    Charter Member
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    Re: Private Leroy Hawkins: Return to next of kin his WW I Service ('Dog')Tag

    ifpdit,

    Welcome to Treasure Net !!

    The Rainbow Division of WW I was, perhaps, the most famous of all the US divisions. As such, a large amount of history of their men and activities is available today. There is also at least one current organization that maintains records of that division.
    If you choose to do further research regarding your kin, let me know and I'll give you that information.
    Don.....

  11. #11
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    Re: Private Leroy Hawkins: Return to next of kin his WW I Service ('Dog')Tag

    Amazing! Everytime something is lost, a bit of history is lost also. Too bad the items don't come back up with a history tag attached! Nice post. TTC
    Krav Maga: Breakfast of champions.

 

 

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