Troy chancellor, Vietnam veteran Hawkins is guest speaker Friday

Published 1:58 am Saturday, November 4, 2017

Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., will be the keynote speaker for Andalusia’s Veterans Day ceremony following the parade on Friday.

Hawkins was commissioned a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps and served as a platoon leader during the Vietnam War. For his combat duty, he received the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and a citation from the Korean Marine Corps.

It’s been nearly half a century since a dusty Da Nang trail ambush almost claimed his life, but he’s never forgotten it, not for a second, he told The Montgomery Advertiser in a recent interview.

“I don’t live with it like I did when I first got back home, but May 4 is a day I’ll always remember,” he said, alluding to the date his life nearly ended at the age of 23, and his platoon lost six soldiers.

But he looks forward to trips back to Vietnam where that ambush occurred. Today, he is warmly received as a respected American visitor.

One of his proudest moments occurred when he was in Vietnam to preside over a Troy University commencement ceremony at the Hanoi University of Science and Technology.

A Vietnamese leader once introduced Hawkins as a former enemy “who came over here carrying bullets the first time and books the second time.”