Rolling Bay post office could bear Bainbridge war hero’s name

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill today that would name the Rolling Bay post office after World War II Medal of Honor awardee John ‘Bud’ Hawk.

Decorated with five of the U.S. Army’s top medals in the battlefields of Europe, the Bainbridge Island native was also celebrated for his years in the classrooms of Kitsap County.

“He was a hero for answering his nation’s call in the late 1940s,” said Rep. Jay Inslee, the bill’s prime sponsor. “And he was a hero for several decades to the students he educated.”

Inslee gathered all members of the Washington House delegation to co-sponsor the bill. See a video of Inslee introducing the bill below.

Hawk, now a Bremerton resident, spent his youth in the north Bainbridge neighborhood served by the small Valley Road post office that may soon bear his name.

“He was a son of Rolling Bay,” Inslee said. “He grew up playing with his sister around the post office we’re about to name in his honor.”

Some islanders oppose renaming the post office.

“I do not understand the value of destroying part of our culture by changing the name of our post office to glorify war,” said one commenter on the online forum Green Voices.

Another resident sent a letter to Inslee asking that the post office be named after another war veteran who may have spent more years living on the island.

Hawk, who will turn 85 on May 30, earned the Medal of Honor and four Purple Hearts as an Army machine gunner.

He is most celebrated for his actions during a battle near Chamois, France. Hawk fought off German soldiers with his machine gun before an artillery shell destroyed it and wounded his right thigh. He found a bazooka and helped force German tanks into a forest. He regrouped two machine gun squads and built a working gun out of two damaged ones.

Later in the battle, Hawk braved gunfire at the top of a knoll to help tank destroyers sight their targets. Because the destroyer crews couldn’t hear his directions, Hawk ran back and forth several times to correct their range until two of the tanks were destroyed, a third retreated and 500 German soldiers surrendered.

He was injured three more times during the war.

After returning home in 1945, Hawk earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Washington. He was a teacher and principal in the Central Kitsap School District for over 30 years.

It was in Hawk’s honor that the first Armed Forces Day parade was held in Bremerton. The grand marshall of the event for decades, Hawk missed last year’s 60th anniversary due to health problems.

The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate for approval.