A portion of the road that John “Bud” Hawk once drove to and from his beloved Brownsville Elementary School now bears a memorial sign dedicated to him.
Hawk, a lifelong Kitsap County resident and Army veteran — known for being awarded the Medal of Honor — passed away on Nov. 4 at 89 years old.
Last Thursday morning, a small group gathered to honor the former educator and WWII veteran outside the school he loved.
The sun broke through for a few brief moments before the rains came, and Kitsap County Commissioner Josh Brown spoke to the family in front of Brownsville Elementary prior to the sign unveiling.
“Bud was someone who was really important to our community,” he said.
The commissioner also noted that county and school officials felt it was important to honor his legacy on the road on which he drove on many times over his 31-year career in the district.
Brown honored three family members with a smaller version of the brown metal sign prior to walking to the corner where the larger sign is placed.
After Hawk’s son, Mark Hawk, took down the cardboard to reveal the newly bolted sign, a small group of ASB (Associated Student Body) members and staff gathered to hear Hawk’s daughter say a few words.
“Dad would’ve been very appreciative,” said Marilyn Harrelson. “He spent many hours on these roads.”
Harrelson presented current Brownsville Elementary Principal Toby Tebo with the proclamation of the road dedication to hang in the school, framed with some photos of Hawk teaching inside the school years ago.
Several students who gathered were also honored with a commemorative Congressional Medal of Honor coin.
“He would be very proud of you all,” Harrelson told the group of students as she handed each a coin.
Sixth grader Meagan Green was elated to receive the coin from Harrelson.
“It’s just a big honor. I’m so grateful for it. Just to be awarded one of these is awesome,” she said.
Green said the new sign is exactly where it should be to honor the principal and teacher who taught for so long at the very school she attends.
“I think it made our school better,” she said. “I’m really glad they put it in front of the school so everyone would remember John Hawk.”
During last Wednesday’s Central Kitsap School Board meeting, a mention was made of the possibility of Brownsville being renamed in honor of Hawk.
A small committee has been formed, and the renaming of the school is in its early stages, according to district staff.
“It would have meant a lot to him,” Harrelson said of the sign for her dad. “He said the thing he’s always been most proud of is to be an educator.”
Student Chloe Ashcraft, 12, said the placement of the sign is appropriate in front of the school that Hawk gave so much to over the years.
“I know that a lot of kids that met him were inspired to be a teacher like him. He was their inspiration,” she said.
“It shows that the community actually cared about him. He was someone people really loved and adored. It really touched me. I think I might not get over this for a while. It was really, really incredible,” she said.
In June 1943, Hawk joined the U.S. Army. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 359th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry.
For his heroic actions on Aug. 20, 1944, around Chambois, France, Hawk earned the Medal of Honor.