AR RAMADI, Iraq -- A 20-year-old Eagle Scout and Marine from Chicago ensures vehicles used by 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment stay fueled and in the ongoing fight on the urban battlefield here.
Lance Cpl. Mathew D. Hawkins, a motor transportation operator with Truck Company, Headquarters Battalion, is responsible for keeping the infantry battalion’s two bases, Camps Snake Pit and Hurricane Point, supplied with fuel.
Each morning and evening, the 2003 Crandon High School graduate fills his 7-ton tanker-truck with fuel from Camp Ramadi and takes his place in the re-supply convoy that visits the two camps. Hitting the city’s streets, which are often booby-trapped with improvised explosive devises, twice daily with such a heavy, flammable load is dangerous, but Hawkins doesn’t mind. In fact, he relishes the opportunity.
“I enjoy driving,” Hawkins said as he pressed his foot on his big rig’s accelerator causing it to let out a throaty growl as it went around a street corner during a morning re-supply mission. “I like the responsibility that comes with driving over here too” added the Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran.
Hawkins isn’t the only member in his family who wears the Corps’ symbol, the Eagle, Globe and Anchor -- and who works with trucks.
His brother, 21-year-old Cpl. Nathan Hawkins, is a motor transportation mechanic with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion and is currently stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.
“My brother, Nathan, had a big influence on my joining the Marines,” he explained. “He joined in 2001, and I soon followed in his footsteps.”
The two had the pleasure of serving together during a previous rotation to OIF.
“I was here with him last year,” Hawkins said smiling. “We saw each other almost every day.”
Hawkins drove re-supply convoys from his camp to Nathan’s.
“I looked forward to my daily convoys because I got to see my brother,” he said. “We were always happy to see each other.”
Hawkins may not have his older brother along with him this deployment, but he remains cheerful, which, as an Eagle Scout, is a standard he holds himself to.
“Boy Scouts are cheerful, trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent,” he chimed. “I still know our slogan well.”
Prior to his becoming a Marine two years ago, Hawkins was a proud member of the Boy Scouts. When he was eight years old he joined the Cub Scouts at the chapter in his hometown of Chicago. Nine years and 32 merit badges later, Hawkins had reached the top and earned the title Eagle Scout during his senior year of high school.
“I really enjoyed the scouts because we learned and did so many interesting things,” said Hawkins, adding he especially enjoyed learning survival skills. “Some of the skills I learned could be useful in the Marine Corps. I know how to build shelter and get food if I were to get lost. I could be on Survivor.”
The scouts were a way for the city kid to escape the Illinois metropolis.
“I was always happy to get out of the city and into the wilderness,” he said regarding monthly visits to Camp Mach-kin-o-siew in Pearson, Wis., he would go on with his fellow scout members.
The Boy Scouts and Marine Corps have helped Hawkins develop a good personality, which makes him a likable person, according to Lance Cpl. Pierre A. Barton, who’s also a motor transportation operator with Truck Company.
“He’s the Jim Carey of the Marine Corps,” said the 21-year-old from Chicago who often rides shotgun with Hawkins during the convoys. “He’s funny, respectful and full of energy. He does his job well and is a good Marine.”
Hawkins plans to obtain a commercial drivers license when returns to his home station at the end of his deployment. Then, after receiving an honorable discharge from the Corps in two years, he plans to become a truck driver hauling cargo across the United States.
“The idea of driving cross country for a living appeals to me,” Hawkins said. “I’ve loved driving ever since I was too young to do it. When I got old enough where I could drive, I loved it even more. I feel free when I’m behind the wheel.”