BEATRICE – A retired Beatrice Police Lieutenant who served in Vietnam as part of a secretive Army helicopter crew, was honored Friday with a “Quilt of Valor”.

Crime Victims Coordinator Kerri McGrury was responsible for getting Joe Hawkins to a reception in his honor, at police headquarters. The Quilt of Valor program of Gage County Extension and Four-H, honors those who have served their country. The quilts are created by Four-H volunteers.

Hawkins was a flight engineer on a Chinook CH-47 helicopter, and was sent to Vietnam in 1966. The copter crew was responsible for hauling sensitive electronic gear up a mountain, which was then used to guide bombing missions over Hanoi and other North Vietnamese targets.

The bronze star winner’s missions were so secret, crew members wore no identifying military gear, and carried no weapons.
The crew was warned they would be flying through MIG fighter jet territory, but Hawkins said they were lucky never to be attacked by them.

Hawkins returned to civilian life in March of 1967, becoming a police officer. Family members, friends and police officers gathered Friday afternoon at police headquarters to honor him for his service to his country.

Even in retirement, Joe now helps out, assisting the Gage County Emergency Management Agency.