SEBASTIAN – Sebastian son Marine Michael Hawkins leaves for Camp Pendleton, Calif., Monday. On Saturday, the community turned out at the Sebastian VFW Post 10210 to welcome him home and send him off.
“He represents all the young people who have volunteered to give some part of their life to their country,” VFW Post 10210 Commander Jack Willis said during a banquet in Marine Hawkins’ honor. “We’re very grateful for that.” More than 40 friends, family and VFW members attended the dinner to send off Marine Hawkins, who took the pomp and circumstance in stride.
“I think it’s a little much,” the Marine said of the send off, noting he wasn’t going away to war.
Instead, the 20-year-old Lance Corporal is going back to base for training. He has volunteered for a tour to the Middle East to help in the war against terror, but he does not yet know if he would be sent there or back to the Pacific, where he recently served.
A couple weeks ago, his friends and family gathered at Riverview Park to craft large yellow bows to place around town to show their support for the soldier.
“It was pretty inspiring,” and motivational, Marine Hawkins said of seeing the ribbons. He added that it showed him how much support there is for the military.
Since he’s been home, the young Marine has been able to enjoy some freedom – staying out late, sleeping in and getting to see his friends.
“I wish I could stay longer,” he said, half-joking.
Marine Hawkins enlisted in the Marines to serve in the infantry because he wanted to help fight.
“We’re very happy and very honored to have you here,” said Post Commander Willis. Marine Hawkins received a plaque naming him “Our American Hero.”
“It really means a lot to me,” the Marine told the audience, thanking them for attending and showing their support.
Members of Stepping Stone Quilters presented a quilt to Marine Hawkins as a token of their support and a small measure of comfort when away from home.
“We love you and wish you the best,” member Pat Keane told the Marine as the group gave him the quilt.
Sebastian Mayor Richard Gillmor told Marine Hawkins and his family that when he was approached to attend the banquet, organizers said they would be honored if the mayor could attend.
“Michael, it is I who am honored,” the mayor said, adding, “We live in the land of the free because of the brave – brave men and women in uniform, who like yourself, put themselves daily in harm’s way to protect, defend and safe keep our great country. So, from our city’s residents, please accept this thank you for your service in the United States Marine Corp.”