June 27, 2012 - Gary Hawkins

As a Navy Seabee in World War II, Gary Hawkins got used to life on the water.  After the war, Hawkins signed up as a Navy chaplain.  He eventually ended up serving several ships, including a destroyer named the USS Orleck.  Hawkins says life as a chaplain was sometimes more than just biblical.

"Someone would come to me and say, I've got a sore back.  I don't like all this marching.  I would ask, what did the doctor tell you?  They told us to live through it.  I said, well that's his expertise.  That has nothing to do with being a chaplain."

Hawkins was serving on board the Orleck one day in the mid 50's, when someone asked him to write a prayer for the ship.

"I was aboard the Orleck and they came in one day and said somebody said, Chaplain, the Orleck family gave us a bible when the ship was commissioned.  Nobody has ever written a prayer in this bible.  So I wrote a short prayer."

That prayer was read at the Orleck's decommissioning ceremony.  Hawkins has had the chance to reunite with the Orleck and recently toured the ship at its dock in Lake Charles.  He says it's important for people to know the significance of ships and service personnel from that era.

"My generation, the people who won World War II, saved this whole world.  Because if nincompoops like Tojo and Hitler had been able to pull it off, it would have been terrible."

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