MAKING MEMORIAL DAY MEMORABLE
Gratitude for the sacrifices which allow us to live in freedom is an important motivational tactic. For those of you who are new to our website (and even newer to knowing about my family) I come from a large close-knit, hard working family. We like to laugh (and we laugh A LOT) and we tell old stories and share memories whenever we spend time together.
Last year, my Dad went home to be with the Lord. Our family is still healing and learning to function without him, but we remember with gratitude Dad's gift of telling stories and bringing joy, laughter and levity to almost every situation. This includes his time spent serving the United States of America in the Air Force. Of course there were (and still are) many genuine heroes who serve our Nation with valor, integrity and courage. We salute them and are grateful for their sacrifices. That being said, I hope you're encouraged by this little story my father once told me - never claiming to be a hero. But it sure is a good memory.
(also known as Sonny Boy) was one of those fresh-out-of-the-country,
happy-go-lucky, jovial kinds of small-town guys. He was just seventeen
years of age when he joined the United States Air Force. The year was
He had a handsome face, perfectly straight,
pearly-white teeth and a muscular build. Sonny Boy was basically a
peace-loving kind of guy, not given to quarrelsomeness - so this
stint as a soldier was going to be a real stretch for him, given his natural
inclination towards comedy, peace and love.
friends quickly and the other Airmen liked to be in his company with
his easy laugh and funny jokes. Not too long after basic training did
one of his buddies show him a poster saying that the Air Force was
looking for recruits to join their boxing team.
you're a tough guy...you could do that easy! I can just picture that
pretty face of yours on all those Air Force posters!" His friends ribbed
"You ought to try out for the boxing team!" The guys in his unit began urging him.
"Anyhow, that's a whole heap
better than getting shipped off somewhere to get shot at."
statement like that was a strong incentive for a guy like Sonny, who
wasn't exactly given to acts of heroics and hadn't enlisted looking for
adventure and thrills. The more the thought about it, it was starting to sound like
truer words had never been spoken...
Boy thought about it all that night. He thought about the various
fisticuffs he'd gotten into (and emerged victorious from) back in his hometown in
Alabama, and the fact that he'd grown up with older brothers who hadn't
hesitated to give him first-hand experience in the value of
self-defense. He began to realize he had already proven to have some natural talent as a fighter.
team..." He thought, warming up to the idea. "I could get paid to go
around the world and box, instead of working my fingers to the bone and
maybe winding up killed somewhere."
Thoughts of the the Brown Bomber, (Joe Louis) further compelled him to start thinking his
destiny might be to make it big in the ring. He made up his mind to go
to the tryouts.
The day of
the boxing tryouts arrived, and Sonny confidently approached the ring -
several of his friends along for moral support.
stripped down, rolling his neck and shoulders, jabbing at the air to
loosen up as his friends helped him lace up his gloves.
The boxing recruiter who was in the ring introduced himself and asked a few questions.
"Have you ever boxed before?"
"Where you from, Airman?"
"So this is your first time in the ring?"
"Yes sir, it is."
The man started laughing and then smiled.
tell you what...since it's your first time boxing, I'm only going to
use one hand...my left hand. I'm gonna keep my right hand behind my back
the whole time you're in the ring with me."
Sonny thought to himself "I can't wait to knock that smirk right off of his face."
Hawkins entered the ring and put up his dukes. Side-to-side he bobbed
and weaved, light on his feet, moving in a semi-circle around
the center of the ring, contemplating where he'd land his first jab. He looked for all the world, just like a professional.
"Whap! Whap! Whap! Whap! Whap!"
heard - then felt (though he never actually saw) five impossibly quick
jabs and hooks. They fell upon him in such rapid, staccato succession
that it induced a sense of unreality. In fact, the ring was beginning to
seem off-kilter. Truth be told, Sonny Boy, aka Airman Hawkins felt a
And just like that, he threw up both hands and said "That's it."
"Boxin' ain't for me."
"You sure?" Asked the recruiter.
Sonny's response was to begin unlacing the gloves.
that was the sum total of my Dad's service to the United States Air
Force in the boxing ring. He took five hits, nearly got knocked out and didn't swing a single punch. :-)
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