On Dec. 10, 2013, the "Major" made his final flight from this earthly home on a one way course bound for heaven and is now at peace with his Creator, Lord and Savior.
The family will receive friends from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15 at Jones Funeral Home, 303 Chaney Avenue, Jacksonville.
A celebration of life service will be held at noon Monday, Dec. 16 at Faith Harbor United Methodist Church, Surf City, followed by burial with Military Honors at Coastal Carolina State Veterans Cemetery, Montford Point Road, Camp Lejeune.
Born April 5, 1929, to Harold and Helen Hawley at Casper, Wyo., the Hawley family moved to South Bend, Ind., when Richard was nine years old. He graduated from James Whitcome Riley High School in 1947, and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1948, subsequently he qualified for Naval Aviation Cadet School in 1950, and entered flight training at Pensacola, Fla.
On Dec. 20, 1951, Richard earned his wings, selected Marine Aviation and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. In June 1952, Lt. Hawley was assigned to duty in South Korea, where he flew combat bomber missions.
By 1960, being a senior Captain, Hawley completed his tour of duty in Japan and was selected to attend Officers' Junior School at Quantico, Va., where he met his soon to be wife, Jean Taylor Hawley, they married in November 1961. Following graduation in 1962, Hawley's next assignment landed this aviator in the 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, for duty as the Air Liaison Officer. Shortly after arriving at CLNC, the Cuban Missile crisis erupted and the 2nd Marines deployed. The 2nd MarDivAssistant Commanding General, Tompkins arranged for Captain Hawley to pilot a plane out of Jacksonville, Fla., with a "pulled together flight crew" to return to CLNC for the reproduction of orders of engagement to complete the presidential ordered blockade of Cuba.
In May 1963, Hawley received orders to transition into helicopters simultaneously with his promotion to Major he reported into HMH – 461, MCAS(H) New River, being assigned in various capacities until early summer of 1965, when he assumed command of HMH – 461. The heavy demands on MAG-26 for aircraft and crews for Vietnam placed an undue burden on New River to meet required commitments in the Caribbean. Major Hawley's solution was to deploy the full squadron of "Deuces" HR2S to preserve the depleted supply of UH-34s. Ultimately, convincing the Marines Corps the plan was feasible, HMH-461 with 12 aircraft led by Major Hawley deployed on Sept. 15, 1965, for the first and only time the craft was utilized in a squadron-size force as it was initially designed to do. Major Hawley credited his amazing Maintenance Officer and crew for superior skills in keeping the "Deuces" in the air and commended his pilots and crew chiefs for setting new safety records; on their return all 12 aircraft led by Major Hawley flew in formation over the air field at New River.
In early February 1966, Major Hawley received orders for overseas, again moving his young family back to Virginia to be closer to extended family members. In early January 1967, Major Hawley assumed command of Sub Unit 1, H&MS Mag-16, the aging "Deuces" welcomed an old friend who expertly led his team of young pilots on numerous combat missions, again setting records and proving that the old "bird" was not done yet.
Major Hawley was commended for his exceptional and courageous leadership and was awarded the Bronze Star; Air Medal with 4*; Navy Unit Commendations; National Defense Service Medal with 1*; Korean Service Medal with 2*; United Nations Service Medal; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with 1*; Vietnamese Medal with 2*; Korean Presidential Unit Citation; Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with device; and Combat Action Ribbon.
Upon retirement on Jan. 1, 1970, Major Hawley attended Coastal Carolina Community College subsequently teaching classes in Civilian Flight Instruction. He became the owner and successful operator of the Onslow Mall Exxon from 1972 to 1992, when he retired from active work to spend time fishing and gardening at Topsail Beach. In 1996, he underwent a quadruple by-pass, suffered a stroke which altered his lifestyle considerably.
Major Hawley was a committed and giving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend, he often commented that his highest priority and greatest privilege was spending time with his wife and family. Preceded in death by his parents, Harold and Helen Hawley and younger brother, Jack Hawley of South Bend, Ind., he is survived by his beloved wife, Jean Taylor Hawley and his highly prized Samcat2 of Sneads Ferry; son, William Pearson and wife, Suzie of Raleigh; granddaughters, Jennifer Pearson of Atlanta, Ga., Michelle Pearson, husband Steve Raper; and great-granddaughters, Madigan and Olivia and great-grandson, Lucas Raper of Raleigh; son, Robert Hawley, wife Teresa and grandson, Jody Hawley and great-grandson, Jayden of Jacksonville; grandson, Adam Hawley, wife Alicia and great-grandson, Austin Hawley of Surf City; son, Daniel Pearson, wife Nancy and grandson, Ray Pearson of Wilmington. He is also survived by his sister, Donna Smith of New Port Richey, Fla., and a very special sister-in-marriage, Sandy Taylor Hritz, husband Ron; and many nieces and nephews of the Hawley-Taylor families
The family would like to extend their heartfelt appreciation to the Nursing staff and Doctors in IMCU and especially 4th Floor care staff for every effort and kindness extended while Richard was in their "gentle" care at Onslow Memorial Hospital.
Internet condolences may be left at jonesfh.org.