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Admiral Nimitz on the Texas Navy
''he individual men to whom recognition has come for valor in action are legion.
The most recent of these was Marine Lieutenant William D. Hawkins of El 'aso, who
lead the attack against enemy machine gun positions at 'I'arawa, and fought dauntlessly
and furiously in spite of three wounds until finally he was killed in action. In
his fighting spirit, and in the fighting spirit of other Texans who have fallen on the
field of battle, we take solemn pride. More than two thousand Texans have given
their lives in the defense of our nation's cherished freedom. Their names will be forever
enshrined in the hearts and minds of Texans, along with other earlier heroes
of the republic.
A little more than a hundred years ago another Hawkins was playing a colorful
part in Texas history. He was Commodore Charles E. Hawkins, first to command
the Texas Navy. Not many people realize that Texas once had a Navy of her own;
that many of the pioneers were seafaring people, and that victories won at sea helped
in shaping Texas destiny.
Most of the early settlers came by way of the sea, embarking at Mobile and New
Orleans. Because of their innocence, or because of a certain love of independence,
they entered through whatever ports on the Gulf seemed most expedient. The ports of
entry which Mexico attempted to establish for the collection of customs duties were
an early cause of friction which contributed to the Texas Revolution. And during
the Revolution, the tiny Texas Navy, built around three sloops of war under Commodore
Hawkins, was able to establish control of the Gulf of Mexico. These ships
were the Independence, the Invincible, and the Brutus. With them Hawkins controlled
the sea approaches to Texas, blocked reinforcements to Santa Anna, and contributed
in large part to the many difficulties which beset the Mexican Army in its long overland
march to the Alan-o, Goliad, and San Jacinto Battles of 1836. So it was that
Texas established a Naval tradition to stand alongside the brilliant military record
achieved on land.
Remarks of Fleet Admiral Nimitz to The Texas Roundup at Moana Park, Honolulu,
Sunday 16 January 1944
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U.S. Navy Department. Naval History Division. Texas Navy, book, January 1, 1968; Washington D.C.. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth2419/m1/40/: accessed April 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .