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Our Man of the Month for August is
Rear Admiral Jean Hodgkins Hawley.

Born in Colton, N.Y., the Admiral attended the local schools and later entered Clarkson College of Technology and was graduated in 1907.

In November of the same year Admiral Hawley entered the Coast Survey. From 1908 to 1910 he was a junior field officer, his parties operating along the Atlantic Coast.

During the years 1910 to 1913 he served as junior officer and executive officer of the ship ROMBLON in the Philippines; during 1914 to 1919 he conducted wire drag parties along the Atlantic Coast and in 1920 he commanded the ship ONWARD on the Atlantic Coast.

1921 saw him assigned as Commanding Officer of the ships WENONAH and EXPLORER, operating in Alaska where he received one of the greatest thrills of his life. We’ll tell more about this later. His work kept him in this region until 1923 when he again returned to the Atlantic to command the LYDONIA until he came to the office in 1924 and was made Chief of the Coast Pilot Section and Chief of the Engraving Section.

On July 1st, 1930, he attained the rank of Commander and later sent to Manila as Director of Coast Surveys.

Returning to the office in Oct. 1932 he was appointed Assistant Director under Admiral R. S. Patton and has remained in this office until the present.

On Feb. 25th of this year [1942] the Admiral was reappointed Assistant Director and promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral, a promotion that proved to be one of the most popular ever granted in this office as he is held in high esteem by the officers and civilian workers.

The Admiral is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Washington Society of Engineers, and the Society of American Military Engineers. He has contributed many writings dwelling on his engineering activities among them being: Construction and Operation of Wire Drag, Construction and Operation of Wire Drags and Sweeps, Radio Acoustic Position Finding, and Distances Between Ports.

A quiet and stern looking gentleman always seeming to be attending strictly to business, yet as one becomes better acquainted with him, he quickly learns of his sympathetic and earnest regard for his fellow men….

We salute the Admiral and wish him all success and hope for his association with us for a long, long time to come.

In: “The Buzzard,” Vol. IX, No. 32, pp. 1-4. August 6, 1942.

October 1st was marked by the retirement of Rear Admiral J.H. Hawley,
who has served as Assistant Director of the Coast and Geodetic Survey since his appointment to that post under the late Admiral R.S. Patton in October 1932. Prior to that date he had served as junior officer and executive officer of the Ship ROMBLON in the Philippines, and commanded the Ships ONWARD and LYDONIA on the Atlantic Coast and the Ships WENONAH and EXPLORER in Alaskan waters. His last assignment before becoming Assistant Director was that of Director of Coastal Surveys in Manila.

Since joining the Survey in November 1907, after graduating from Clarkson College of Technology, Admiral Hawley has seen the Bureau grow from a small outfit in the "horse and buggy" days of surveying to a streamlined organization utilizing all the many improvements in methods and instruments. He played a leading role in this transition. To name but one part, he was instrumental in the development of the wire drag method of locating pinnacle rocks and wrecked ships, and among his many technical writings may be found "Construction and Operation of Wire Drag."

On the lighter side may be found his fondness for sports and his skill in wood carving. His marked ability as an after-dinner speaker has been demonstrated to the members of the Bureau at several bowling banquets.

An "Officer and a Gentleman," he has always been known as a very easy going man, but it is said that there was not an officer in the Survey that could get more out of his men because of his faculty for handling men well and demanding strict adherence to duty, and hold their high esteem and great respect.



Strange how a common event can stir up on one kind of day an impulse which on some other kind of day would not be stirred up. Forty-two years ago a young guy was crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and he happened to glance down toward the water below. Now this youngster had only recently graduated from Clarkson College of Technology at Potsdam, New York, and the Brooklyn Bridge crossing was part of a daily routine to and from his job.

What he saw on the water below on this day, 42 years ago was more or less a regular sight but it had never affected him before like it did on this day. It was a blooming hot day; and brother, it was really hot. Down there on the water it looked cool, shadows covered part of the water, and the shadow backgrounded a little white ship.

It was a blooming hot day; yes, we said that before, but it was still blooming hot and that ship looked so cool. Ah, that would be the life! By golly, that's what the professor was talking about at the commencement exercises. Just a minute---that was Professor John F. Hayford and he was the chief of what was called the "Coast and Geodetic Survey." Yep, that's it---the Coast and Geodetic Survey. And didn't he say something about the Coast and Geodetic Survey making surveys of coastal waters and the work was done from little white ships? Sure enough, he did say that.

It was a blooming hot day. But the youngster by that time had a hot idea. He had put all the pieces together to get that hot idea. Yep, hot day, cool shadows, little white ship, Coast and Geodetic Survey. Boy, that's the life for me! And he acted accordingly. Then came: application, examination, rating, certification, acceptance, oath of office, and he was in. He was in the Service with the little white ships. Blooming hot days? He was going to cool off in the little white ship in the Coast and Geodetic Survey.

Thirty long years elapsed before that same guy, now a middle-agedster, passed up that same river in the shadows on a---no, not a little but a---much larger ship and this time, instead of over, under the Brooklyn Bridge and as commanding officer of that larger ship. Twenty years it took him to get from sweltering heat on one bridge to soothing hibernacle of another bridge.

Think what might have happened if it had not been a blooming hot day and that young guy had looked straight ahead instead of down toward the water, with the shadow on it, and the little white ship. What a catastrophe that would have been! Haven't you guessed by now?

Folks, you all know that guy--the astute, kind-hearted, genial dry-humor-soaked, JEAN HODGKINS HAWLEY.

THE BUZZARD, Vol. 17, No. 4., 10/4/1949

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.
Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:27 AM

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