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The 801st Engineer Aviation Battalion in Word War II

This is the history of one small cog in the great machine that was the United States Armed Forces in World War II. It is based on the battalion’s official history, written by some of its men and approved by its commanding officer just as the 801st was being inactivated on Okinawa at the end of the war. Throughout this official story are sidebars of another, very personal story, seen through the eyes of one enlisted man, filtered through years of memory, and definitely not approved by any higher authority.

Robert Hawks at 801st HQ
Robert Hawks beneath the Headquarters sign of the 801st at Lagens Field, Azores in 1944
photo from the Hawks collection

Come and join the 801st as they train to be combat engineers, journey across two oceans to the Azores and Okinawa, take part in a secret operation that is still in few history books, and build airbases, a hospital, tank farms and pipelines. On the way they shoot machine guns at kites, meet a heroic movie star, lose an LST, save a couple of Portuguese militiamen from a horrible fate, and experience first-hand both an Atlantic hurricane and a Pacific typhoon.

This site is dedicated to all the men and women who served, particularly to the men of the 801st, and especially to that master engineer and teller-of-tales, my father, Robert J. Hawks.

Next: Aviation Engineers >>

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Robert Hawks and his car in 1942

Robert Hawks–Dad–grew up as the middle son of a large family in the small western Michigan town of Buchanan. more >

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