Susan Rice
Outstanding, A Mile in Their Shoes
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I laughed and cried a little reading some of these stories. I hope that more books like this one are written before we lose them forever. I also want to say that I appreciate and am grateful for all of our armed services for the sacrifices they have made in protecting this country.
Kenneth D. Willeford
A Mile in Their Shoes
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I have to recommend this writing to anyone who wants to read a very acurate been there done that type book. We need a lot more books like this one before all of the WWII Veterans are gone and along with them all of the true events that happen during an actual war. It isn't pretty but so necessary to win any war.
Ron Barnes
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The veterans of World War 2 reflect on the war, the invasion of Normandy, Korea, Vietnam and garrison duty. An excellent recollection from a group of fast disappearing veterans. A must for any war historians. You will enjoy this book; it is definitely a must for your shelf!

"You think war is hell . . ." (excerpt)

Aaron Elson: Now, did I see a bunch of tattoos on your arms?

John Hawk: Just one.

Aaron Elson: How did you get the tattoo?

John Hawk: Oh, I got that when I was a kid. I wanted to see if it would make my girlfriend mad and it did. Her name’s grown over since.

Aaron Elson: Her name was on it?

John Hawk: Her name was right there. The gal I married, that wasn’t her name, and I told her once, “For a dollar I can get them to ink that over. Do you want me to do it?”
She said, “Give me the dollar. I got what I want.”
She took the damn dollar and left the name on.

Aaron Elson: What was your wife’s name?

John Hawk: My wife’s name was Madeline, and that one happened to be Dorothy.

Aaron Elson: Do you have children?

John Hawk: Two. We had three, we lost, our first one was killed by a car when he was six years old. On the way to school. That’s a bad scene. Especially if you happen to be a schoolteacher yourself.

Aaron Elson: Was your wife a schoolteacher?

John Hawk: No, I was.

Aaron Elson: I didn’t know that.

John Hawk: Yeah. Oh, I got home out of the Army and, boy, you think war is hell, try going to college when you’re beat up mentally and physically, not too smart to start with, didn’t pay much attention in high school. Sweating and worrying about trying to be a romeo and a bread winner and a student all at the same time. I pretty near failed at all three. I wasn’t gonna get married because I didn’t think I could support the girl. I finally had this one tremendous stroke of intelligence — I don’t have many — and married the girl. I held out for three years, but then she finally said, “Go ahead and do it.”

Aaron Elson: What did you wind up teaching?

President Truman awards the Medal of Honor to John "Bud" Hawk

John Hawk: Elementary school. Fifth and sixth grade. I took a degree in biology. Then I have minors in history and English and geography. I wasn’t intending to teach. I was going to teach high school, but there were no openings at the time and I was qualified to teach [elementary school]. I tell you, I did a little ratting around before I figured out how to teach reading. 

I spent six years just as a classroom teacher, and then for nine years I taught full time and ran the school, too, as a teaching principal. And then the last years I was just a principal.

I struggled, God, it took me over six years to get four full years in. I eventually got in the equivalent of six and a half, seven years. God, that was hard. I could do the daily stuff and everything, but math was hard for me. I couldn’t retain the math. But I did real well on the natural science, on the biology. Plants and animals. History and geography I liked, too, so I did that. I had a language deficiency, so instead of taking a foreign language I took so much English I finally ended up with a minor in that.

Aaron Elson: Who were your favorite authors?

John Hawk: I like the kind of the historical novels, even what other people considered horrible ones like “Moby Dick,” and those. I like different kinds of writing, and some of them of course that everybody else thought were great I didn’t think were worth the trouble, so it was funny that way. I just took that because the only thing they taught when I was in high school were Latin and Spanish and I wasn’t interested in either one, and I got to college, and of course in those days they said, “If you’re going to take a science course you have to have German.”

I didn’t get along well with the German teacher. And oh, God, was she a German teacher. She was a little spare, kind of spindly gal, always wore a grey knit suit. Her name was Saarlautern. And she’s got her hair pulled back and everything.
I had to take some of it. So I was working away at it and I wasn’t doing that well. Finally, I did some German for her. She says, “You seem to understand it, but you don’t speak it or work at it very well.”
And I said, “That’s probably right.”
And she said, “But German is a beautiful language.”
And I wasn’t feeling that good and I said, “Well, the last time I heard your beautiful language, the people that were speaking it and I were busy killing each other.”

John Hawk

She said, “You don’t think German is a beautiful language?”
And I said, “No.”
And she said, “Then why are you taking it?”
And I said, “Because I’m required to, and that’s the only reason.” And I could see “D” written in both eyes.
Anyhow, she told me later that one of the people in the class, I was going to the University of Washington, finally came up and told her later who I was and about my record. And she said, “I can understand what happened. Maybe he doesn’t think that much of the language, it would probably be hard for him to learn.”
I told her later, “Well, the last time I got shot I probably forgot all of it.” But I struggled and struggled, and finally I married my girlfriend and that took care of breadwinner and romeo, and I think the Veterans Administration and the university got together and said if somebody doesn’t pass this sucker he’s gonna be here the rest of his life. Give him a C, will you?

Aaron Elson: Which university was that?

John Hawk: The University of Washington, Seattle. I had started in the university, I made the first year, just barely, and I mean it was tough. I wasn’t well enough when I first got home, so they wouldn’t let me go to work or anything. I kept saying I have to do something. Well, if you do the wrong thing we’ll throw you in the hospital, how’s that? That’s the ultimate threat.

Aaron Elson: What was the nature of your last set of wounds?

John Hawk: Concussion and combat fatigue. Between the blast that I got and the fatigue, I broke down.

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