This is the fifth in a series of articles about veterans who are buried in the Rock Springs cemetery who do not have a gravestone. The High Desert Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is working with others in the community, including the Rock Springs Historical Museum, American Legion and Auxiliary, Vase Funeral Home, Veterans Service Office, Rocket-Miner, and Rock Springs Cemetery to recognize the service of these men.

Harold J. Hawkins was born on April 28, 1899, in Holyoke, Massachusetts, the youngest son of English and Canadian immigrant parents. Harold enlisted on Company B, 1st Infantry, North Dakota National Guard at Fargo, North Dakota, on Aug. 3, 1917, as a minor. He served overseas from Dec. 15, 1917, to March 17, 1919. He was wounded slightly on May 4, 1918. Harold was discharged at Camp Upton, New York, on April 14, 1919, as a musician third class.

In 1916, Congress passed a bill to establish bands for the headquarters companies of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, as well as the Corps of Engineers. After the U.S. entered World War 1 in 1917, Gen. John Pershing was appointed as commander of Allied Expeditionary Forces (AEF). Gen. Pershing believed that military bands were a key element in maintaining the morale of his soldiers and sought approval to authorize 20 additional bands. He also increased the band member numbers from 28 to 48 and created a band school in Chaumont, France, to train bandmasters and musicians. Through the years, 32 Army musicians have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

After his discharge, Hawkins married Violet Belle Cobb of Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Oct. 21, 1927, and they resided in Omaha, Nebraska.

Harold came to Rock Springs in 1936 as the head of a dance school under the professional name of Jimmy O’Brian as a tap dancer. He lived in Rock Springs for about a year until his death on May 22, 1937. Hawkins died from injuries he suffered in an automobile accident 4 miles west of Hanna. He was laid to rest in the Rock Springs Cemetery.

Sources: Rock Springs Rocket Miner; Casper Star Tribune;; Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University


Thanks to the many people who have been involved in getting gravestones placed during May and June 2019. Seven gravestones have been placed as well as one medallion for Adolph Swanman, Indian Wars; William McDonough, Camp Pilot Butte; Sherman Daniels, Spanish-American War; William Wyovich and Frank Salet who both succumbed to disease while serving in WWI; Bosko Karlogan and Eraklis Malakis, both WWI veterans; and John Benedicic, who died while on active duty in 1922.

During May, Sunroc Cement donated the cement and placement of the slabs for the gravestones and have generously agreed to complete the project. There are about 30 more veterans to honor whose service ranges from the Civil War to the Korean War. Others who have been instrumental in this project include Chris Doak, Sexton, Rock Springs Cemetery and staff; American Legion Post 24 including Mike Hobbs, Leonard Merrell, Doug Uhrig, Bill Stapleton, and the invaluable skill of Blaine Slagowski; and Sam Esquibel, Veterans Service Officer.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.