Fallen soldier fondly remembered
'Freddie' Hawn cared about youngsters in Iraq
By MATT ANDERSON
For Rutherford A.M.
They say love hurts, but for "Freddie" Hawn, it meant physical pain. When Freddie was nine years old, he set out with thumbtacks in his mouth to hang a Farrah Fawcett poster above his bunk bed.
As he laid on the bottom bed, one of the tacks found its way down his throat. His face white as a ghost, he approached his mother and said matter-of-factly, "I just swallowed a thumb tack, and it's stuck in my throat."
After a rush to the emergency room and a quick surgery, Freddie was fine.
"Now, I look back and laugh, but then, I couldn't," said Hawn's mother, Faye.
Sgt. Asbury Fred Hawn II, 35, a Rutherford county native who lived in Lebanon, was killed last week when his Humvee was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq.
In addition to his parents and three sisters, Sgt. Hawn is survived by his wife, Angie, and two sons, Jonathon, 12 and Spencer, 4.
Two other National Guardsmen were killed and one was injured in the attack, which represented the largest loss of life in a single incident by their unit, the 278th Regimental Combat Team.
Sgt. Hawn's funeral was held in Smyrna yesterday. Friends and family remembered him with sadness and affection last week.
Faye fondly remembers the pranks and "comical situations" — the time Freddie dressed as a ghost to give the kids a scare, the time he spent an entire paycheck on a 4th of July fireworks show, and the time he lit a smoke bomb under a neighbor's failing air conditioning unit.
"He was always into something," she said. "He was a jokester."
Freddie the smoke-bomb-lighting prankster was just one side of Fred Hawn, who dreamed of serving his country, his family members say. Toy soldiers were among his favorites.
"He was into the structure and what they represented, not blowing things up," said sister Faith Brownlow.
With three older sisters, Freddie grew up a little spoiled, by all family accounts.
"He got a little tired of all the girls being around," Brownlow said.
Sgt. Hawn got his first taste of military life in the ROTC at Smyrna High School. When
La Vergne High School opened in 1988, Freddie's senior year, he was a founding member of the school's ROTC unit.
"He worked hard for me," said Jeff Clater, Freddie's ROTC instructor, who still teaches at
La Vergne. "He was a good
The Hawn family worked hard to get Lavergne High's program started. For a fundraiser, the family made a quilt in Wolverine royal blue and silver, which was raffled off to benefit the program.
"We were flat busted and broke, and the Army and the school system didn't help us out much," Clater said.
"There was a lot of tumult, but I could always depend on Fred," he said. "He got a lot of satisfaction that his work was going on."
After graduation, Freddie worked at a Piggly Wiggly in Smyrna, but he soon found his way into the Army.
"I tried to push him not to go in, but his dad was all for it," Faye Hawn said.
Iraq was not Sgt. Hawn's first time serving abroad — in 1994, he went to Haiti on a peacekeeping mission during the country's elections.
After serving three years active duty, he joined the Tennessee Army National Guard. He left for Iraq last November.
His mother and sister stressed how proud Freddie was of his work in Iraq. He was dedicated to his wife and children at home, and he was very compassionate for the children in Iraq.
"He said it was so sad to see those kids," Faye said. "They didn't know what crayons were — he had to show them."
The children first rejected the crayons, because they weren't something to eat, but after Sgt. Hawn drew on a piece of cardboard, they were delighted.
At the memorial service held at Camp Bernstein last week, villagers from nearby Tuz brought flowers to honor him and his fellow guardsmen.
"They're really going to miss him over there, because he really was part of them," she said.
"He was dedicated to what they were doing over there in Iraq," Faith said.
The family kept close contact with Freddie via phone and email. Sgt. Hawn even carried a satellite phone to call the family after nearby attacks to say "I'm safe and alright."
When the chaplain came last Sunday, the Hawns had heard nothing on the news of the fatal attack.
Asbury Sr. and Freddie talked the previous Friday, when they planned projects for Freddie's new 5-acre farm. In September, when Sgt. Hawn's tour was up, the two planned to build a fence, dig a pond and build a shed.
It was the last time the two would speak.
Their last words: "Be careful. I love you."