Lieutenant (jg) Arthur Ray Hawkins:
Navy Ace with 14 Aerial Victories to his credit.
Born in Zavalla, Texas on December 12, 1922
Attended Lon Morris College in Jacksonville Texas but decided to join the Navy at the age of 19 on April 29,1942 after the death of his older brother, an Army Air Force fighter pilot, who was shot down in the South Pacific.
He took his flight training at NAS Corpus Christi Texas and NAS Opa Locka Florida. After graduation on January 1, 1943 he received his commission as an Ensign.
On May 1, 1943 Ens. Hawkins was attached to the newly formed Fighter Squadron 31 (VF-31) under the command of Lt. Cmd. Robert Winston at NAS Atlantic City New Jersey. He served with VF-31 on board the USS Cabot from January 1944 through October 1944. During his tour of duty aboard USS Cabot he became a Naval Ace downing 14 enemy aircraft. Lt Hawkins was one of the 10 original pilots from VF-31 to signup for a second tour of duty aboard the USS Belleau Wood from June 1945 through October 1945 when VF-31 was dissolved.
Engagements flown in which Lieutenant (jg) Hawkins shot down enemy aircraft:
Medals Awarded to Lieutenant (jg) Hawkins while serving with VF-31
Lt. Hawkins flew with the US Navy Blue Angles precision flying team as a wingman from 1948 through 1950. He flew the last air show performance that the Blue Angels performed using the Grumman F8F Bearcat piston aircraft and the first air show performance with the Grumman F9F-2 Panther jet aircraft.
In 1950 when the Korean War broke out Lt. Hawkins once again found himself in the seat of a Navy fighter plane in combat. He flew with the other members of the Blue Angels in VF-191 as Executive Officer off of the USS Princeton during the conflict. Lt. Hawkins flew on the first carrier based jet bombing mission of the Korean war.
After his service in the Korean War Lt Cmdr. Hawkins resumed his work with the Blue Angels as their flight leader from 1952 through 1953 and was the first pilot to survive bailing out of an aircraft going faster than the speed of sound.
While commanding officer of NAS Atsugi in Japan during the Vietnam War, he worked to recover Japanese family artifacts lost during World War II. He was awarded the Emperor of Japan Third Order of the Sacred Treasure for this work, which historians say was the highest award ever given by Japan to a foreign military officer
Captain Hawkins retired from the US Navy in 1973 and worked as Secretary/Treasurer of the The National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola Florida, retiring in 1997 as chief of staff.
On October 7th 1984 Captain Arthur Ray Hawkins was inducted into the Aircraft Carrier Aviation Hall of Fame.
On November 1, 2001 Captain Arthur Ray Hawkins was inducted into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame.
Captain Hawkins is to be inducted into the National Museum of Naval Aviation Hall of Honor.
Arthur Ray Hawkins passed away on March 21, 2004
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