Thursday, September 1, 2011
PINE GROVE MARINE PILOT. LT. LARRY HAWKINS VMF-311 ESCORTS TED WILLIAMS CRIPPLED PLANE IN KOREAN WAR.
Red Sox’s Ted Williams Escorted By Schuylkill County Flier.
The Article in the February 19, 1953 Issue of the Pottsville Republican stated: Ted Williams Escorted By County Flier.
A Pine Grove boy piloted a jet fighter bomber that escorted Ted Williams back to an advanced Korean Base after the ball Player’s fighter plane began to burn after participating in a recent raid against an enemy base in North Korea.
He is 2nd Lieutenant Lawrence Hawkins, 75 east Pottsville St. Lt. Hawkins marked his 22nd birthday last Thursday.
News of Lt. Hawkins feat in escorting Williams to safety was contained in a news dispatch from the war area.
Hawkins a graduate of Pine grove High School, class of 1948 enlisted in the Marine Corps following his graduation from High School. He served in the Marines for 21 months and was stationed at Cherry Point, N.C. He then switched to the naval air arm and took flight training at Pensacola Fla. Where he received his wings early 1952. He went to Korea last November and in the last letter received by his family he related he had completed 44 missions, had two air medals and a rest leave in Japan.
From Ted Williams Book ,”My Turn At Bat The story of My Life ” he relates the story of his rescue.
Somebody wrote one time that I had privately resigned myself to my fate, that I thought I was going to Korea to die. That’s not true. The thing that always brought me to my senses about relative danger was the F9. When I flew it, I always marveled at how good a plane it was and how much better I had it than some of the guys in the South Pacific who flew over water al the time ad in equipment that wasn’t as good.
After about eight or ten missins, I began to get real sick. The weather was miserable, cold, foggy, misty. My ears and nose plugged up. I was going to the infirmary every other day. Well, I was out on this one mission, far above thirty-eight Parallel. Our target was an encampment a large troop concentration. We were nearing the target when I lost visual reference with the fellow in front of me. I swung out to pick him up, and when I got back on target I was too low.
We were supposed to be pretty low anyway, using daisy cutters that day, anti personnel bombs that hit and spread out. But now I was a target for I don’t know how many thousands of gooks in that encampment, and sure as hell I got hit with small arms fire. When I pulled up out of my run, all the red lights were on in the plane and the damn thing started to shake. I knew I had a hydraulic leak. Fuel warning light, there are so many lights on a jet that when anything serious goes wrong the lights almost blind you. I was in serious trouble.
I started to call right away, I had a plane in front and one to the side, but I couldn’t pick anybody up. All of a sudden this plane was right behind me. The pilot was a young sandy haired lieutenant named Larry Hawkins, from Pine Grove, Pennsylvania. He could see I was calling, nodding my head, and the last I heard was, “I can barely read your transmission,” and the radio pooped out. Later he told me he was yelling for me to shoot the canopy and bail out, and if I‘d known I was on fire I probably would have. He came up close and I saw he was pointing like mad, trying to show me I was leaking fuel or something. He signaled with his thumb: “Let’s get up,” So we climbed. Altitude is a safety factor. The thinner air helps in case of fire, and if you get another 10,000 feet you can glide thirty five to forty miles if the engine fails.
Meantime, I had taken off my leg strap which holds the data for the trip, I was sure I was going to have to bail out. I’d gone off my hydraulic system. (When it’s damaged it is safer to fly without hydraulics, even though you really have to wrestle the stick.) I got up to 18,000 feet and I could see the frozen water on my right. Any minute I expected I’d have to bail out, and I always dreaded the prospect. It was the only real fear I had flying a plane, that if I had to bail out I wouldn’t make it. Among other things, the cockpit is small. For a big guy, crammed in like I was, I thought I’d surely leave my knee cap right there.
Lieutenant Hawkins did a great job. He led me back to the field and called in to warn them. From the target to the base, flying time was about fifteen minutes. All of a sudden I was over the field. Not the same field I had taken off from but one nearer the target. It was a mad house.
Williams landed successfully at the base, thanks to Schuylkill countian Lt. Larry Hawkins.