It was a beautiful hot Memorial Day and most Americans are grilling out, visiting the lake or camping. On this day Spencer Hawn visits a Memorial Day service The memorial service is not just any Memorial Day service–it’s a service honoring his late father—Sgt. Asbury Hawn.
As Spencer drove up the Smyrna Town Hall he noticed only a few cars. He tells an older lady and her husband who look to be in the late sixties. “The Coronavirus has obviously kept some folks away. This is a very light crowd this morning,” says Spencer to the couple in a soft spoken voice. The small gathering is about a third of the size as the previous gatherings that usually attend.
Spencer is graduating from Stewarts Creek High School this month and plans on attending Motlow Community College and major in marketing. “I think Freddie would be very proud of Spencer if he was alive today,” says Angie Hawn, the widow of Sgt. Hawn.
The 35-year-old Sgt. Hawn died of injuries he sustained on Aug. 13, 2005, in Tuz, Iraq, where they were conducting a mounted patrol. Their Humvee came under attack by enemy forces using rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire.
Sgt. Hawn, known by his friends as ‘Freddie’ was a kind, compassionate and often a cutup and dedicated to his family and country. Freddie worked for Nissan Motor Manufacturing when he was deployed and was known for being a very dependable employee who got along with everyone.
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. Freddie helped the program get on its feet.
During the attack two other National Guardsmen were killed and one was injured. The attack represented the largest loss of life in a single incident by their unit, the 278th Regimental Combat Team.
It has been said that Freddie had just swapped seats with another guardsman who survived but with burns covering 75% of his body.
His fellow guardsman say that Freddie would often hand out candy to the local kids in the village. Villagers from Tuz brought flowers to honor Freddie and his fellow soldiers.
Freddie’s family says he was very dedicated to what the United States was doing in Iraq, trying to bring democracy to the nation.
After Freddie returned home he had planned on helping his father Asbury Hawn erect a fence and build a pond.
Although the family has been through many trials with the loss of their 15-year-old granddaughter, Hope Brownlow, a cheerleader at La Vergne High School was killed in a tragic car accident on Rocky Fork Road in Smyrna and a daughter Faith who passed away with cancer. Freddie’s mother, Faye has often said she finds comfort that her son isn’t forgotten.
There is a road directly in front of Nissan named in honor of Freddie that says, “Sgt. Asbury Hawn Way.” There is also a bridge on I-840 in Wilson County that reads, “Sgt. Asbury Hawn.”
The father finds some peace in knowing that Freddie’s in a better place. The night before the military came to knock on their front door informing them of Freddie’s death, Asbury Hawn, Freddie’s father saw an apparition outside. He had told his wife he saw something that looked like a spirit or a ghost. Faye told him to go back outside to see if it returns. It was no longer there.
Could the apparition have been Freddie simply saying his goodbyes? …Only God knows.