Every small town has its mysteries. Some are born of local legend while others wander into the community unannounced and without much backstory. The mystery of Delmore Hawkins and his Purple Heart is one of the latter.
Or, more accurately, the mystery isn’t so much who Delmore F. Hawkins is, but how his Purple Heart came to rest in the Grayson Arts & History Center. And how the City of Grayson might restore it to any of Hawkins’ family. Grayson Community Development Director Gail Lane has been researching Hawkins with the help of her friend, Sylvia Still, and what they have discovered is worthy of a Nicholas Sparks novel.
A high school graduate, Hawkins married young to a woman named Helen Lucile Neal. While neither Lane nor Still were able to find a wedding date, the did discover that Hawkins enlisted in the United States Army in Columbus, Ohio on August 20, 1943. He was assigned duty as a field artillery specialist in France. Hawkins died in France almost one year later on August 25, 1944–the day Allied forces liberated Paris.
His body never made it home. Instead, he was buried in the St. Andre de L’Eure gardens, plot B, row 6, laid to rest by a Protestant Chaplain.
Helen Hawkins would survive her husband by 30 years–she passed away on April 28, 1974. Next to her headstone in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Brookfield, Missouri, is a memorial stone for her late husband, Delmore. The stone reads, “Delmore F. Hawkins – Sept. 19, 1914 – Killed in France – Aug. 25, 1944.”
No records exist of the Hawkins having children, and Hawkins’ parents and two brothers are both deceased. It appears that there is no one left in the lineage of Delmore F. Hawkins.
But someone had his Purple Heart. And someone brought it to the Grayson Arts & History Center, along with pictures of Delmore, the letter to his wife notifying her of Hawkins’ posthumous Purple Heart, and the Purple Heart medal itself complete with case.
It’s just that no one knows who that someone might be.
That’s why Grayson Local has partnered with the City to help solve the mystery. Our ultimate goal is to get Delmore Hawkins’ Purple Heart into the hands of any family Delmore might have, or at the very least be able to piece together just how Delmore is connected with Grayson so the medal can be proudly displayed in the Arts & History Center.
I’m asking anyone who lives in Grayson to share this story on their Facebook wall, Twitter account, Instagram – heck, Pin it on Pinterest if you’re so inclined. Given the interconnectedness of our world these days, the chances are good someone will come forward and help us learn more about Delmore F. Hawkins and his connection, if any, with Grayson.
And if you are the person who donated the Purple Heart to the Arts & History Center, I would love to hear from you. You can email me here at Grayson Local or connect with me on Facebook.
On this Veterans Day, let’s pull together to bring final honor to one of our Veterans. It’s the least we can do.
Please help make it happen.