Ernie Hanks

Company C 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry

4th Infantry Division

KIA 02/07/1945

 

 

Private First Class Ernie Hanks was killed in action during the
battle for the city of Prüm, Germany, in early 1945.

 

 

 

Ernie Hanks
Freedom is Never Free


Ernie Hanks was born August 24, 1919 to Fermin Hanks and Laura Fruge on Hanks Pond Road in Crowley,
Acadia Parish, Louisiana. He did odd jobs and worked as a farm laborer.

On September 11, 1937 he married Miss Thelma Murphy. This marriage #18,113, is recorded in the Acadia Parish Courthouse
marriage book 14-B on page 90. They lived and worked in and around the Crowley, Louisiana area.
This marriage was blessed with two sons, Harvey born August 19, 1939 and Aubrey born January 8, 1944.

Selective Service Registration Card for Ernie Hanks

 


With World War II raging Ernie enlisted in the Army April 20, 1944 and was inducted at Camp Beauregard (Fort Polk),
Leesville, Louisiana. Pvt. Hanks was given the service # 38***** and completed his basic training there. He left the
Port of New York, New York for overseas duty in Europe and arrived in England in October or November 1944.
He was not involved in the D Day invasion. Battle replacements were rushed into service as soon as possible
and he was on the front lines by November 1944. This put his 22nd. Infantry group in the Battle
of the Hurtgen Forest and later the Battle of the Bulge.

According to the presidential unit citation:

1. The 22nd. Infantry Regiment, with the following attached units:
Company C, 70th Tank Battalion;
Company O, 803d Tank Destroyer Battalion;
Company C, 4th Engineer Battalion;
Company D, 70th Tank Battalion;

Is cited for extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of duty in its
Determined drive to overcome bitter opposition in the Hurtgen Forest.

On 16 November, the 22d Infantry Regiment, with attachments, opened an offensive with the mission of clearing a portion
of the of the Hurtgen Forest of powerful enemy forces and fighting its way to the Roer River and Cologne Plain.
Throughout the campaign, the progress of the unit was seriously impeded by an unusual combination of inclement weather
and difficult terrain. Unseasonable precipitation and damp, penetrating cold were a constant detriment to the health and wellbeing
of the personnel. The terrain was characterized by densely forested hills, swollen streams, and deep, adhesive mud, which
retarded all movement of troops and vehicles. Fully cognizant of the decided strategic advantages which this area afforded for
effective defense, the enemy had prepared an elaborate system of mutually supporting fortifications. The effectiveness of
enemy artillery and mortar fire was considerably enhanced by the frequency of tree bursts in this heavily timbered area.
Inasmuch as natural conditions and rigid construction of enemy strongholds frequently precluded the effective employment
of aerial and motorized support, the burden of neutralizing fanatically defended enemy fortifications fell heavily upon the shoulders
of the infantrymen, as exemplified in the capture of Grosshau, a town in which concrete and steel reinforced basements
rendered each house veritably impregnable to repeated artillery and aerial attacks. The town was ultimately captured by
an assault in which the infantry closed with the enemy in hand-to-hand night fighting. The 22d Infantry Regiment with
attachments, cleared its portion of the Hurtgen Forest and reached its objective on December 4, 1944, opening a gateway
to the Cologne Plain and the ultimate rapid conclusion of the European conflict. The individual courage, valor, and
tenacity displayed by the personnel of the 22d Infantry Regiment, with attachments, in the face of superior odds, usually
hazardous conditions, and unfavorable weather were in keeping with highest traditions of the armed forces.

During Christmas time of 1944 Ernie's unit would have been stationed in and around Luxembourg. From about January 18, 1945
to the end of the month the 22nd Infantry maintained a defensive position along the Sauer River.

On Feb. 1, 1945 the 22nd Infantry Regiment, along with attached units, which would have included tanks from armored units
and artillery support, assembled in Luxembourg for the attack through the Siegfried Line into Germany. 1st. Battalion
(Ernie's unit) moved north to Oudler, Belgium.

February 3, 1945 the 1st. Battalion moved to Cuchet, Belgium, which was the launching point of the attack into Germany.
February 4, 1945, 1st Battalion attacked into Germany near Branscheid taking enemy fire and many casualties.
Feb. 5, 1945 they attacked along the Bleialf-Sellerich Road.
Feb. 6 they captured the towns of Sellerich and Herscheid then took the high ground east of Hontheim.
Feb. 7 (the day Ernie was killed) combat team 22 continued forward for an attack on a village called Prum, Germany,
going through the towns of Obermehlen, Niedermehlem and Steinmehlen. At 1000 hours, 1st. Battalion moved out to seize
a ridge line west of Niedermehlen, which was secured by 1430 hours. The battalion remained on the ridge line
for the rest of the day and night.

Ernie Hanks was returned to Crowley for burial on Sunday, June 5, 1949, having been killed in action February 7, 1945,
during World War II. He was originally buried in the military cemetery in Luxembourg. A detail from Company I of the
156th. Infantry and American Legion Acadia Post 15 met the train and assisted in military services. Rev. Evariste Hebert
conducted services and burial was in the Hanks Cemetery north of Crowley, La. ¹

 

 

 

 

A portion of a map showing the zone of attack by the 22nd Infantry, in the assault on the city of Prüm.
In this fight the 22nd Infantry was opposed by the German 2nd SS Panzer Division.

 

 

 

A portion of a map showing the advance of the 22nd Infantry toward Prüm.
The yellow star in the center right, shows the approximate location at which
Private First Class Ernie Hanks was killed in action.

 

 

 

 

 

ERNIE HANKS IS KILLED IN ACTION

Crowley Soldier Dies in Belgium February 7, Message to Wife Declares

Pvt. Ernie Hanks of Crowley was killed in action in Belgium, February 7, according to a message received here
by his wife, the former Miss Thelma Murphy.

Private Hanks had been in service about 10 months, was overseas about three months, members of the family stated.

He was 24 years of age.

A native of Crowley, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Fermin Hanks, he attended Crowley High School.

Prior to his induction he was employed as a farmer by Vid Coles of Crowley, members of the family reported.

Besides his wife and two sons, he is survived by three brothers, one of whom is PFC Kearney Hanks,
who is in the marines and now home on furlough and five sisters.

From the Crowley Daily Signal March 5, 1945

 

 

 

PFC Ernie Hanks' decorations

 

 

 

 

 

PFC Ernie Hanks was buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery #1, at Foy, Belgium,
on March 5, 1945. Below is the official report of that burial:

 


 

 

 

In 1949, the body of Ernie Hanks was returned to the United States for burial at home.

 

 


Pfc. Ernie Hanks
son of M/M Fermin Hanks

Body Of Crowley
Soldier To Be Returned Sunday

Funeral Services For Pf. Ernie Hanks Same Afternoon

The body of Pfc. Ernie Hanks, of Crowley, will be returned to Crowley for burial Sunday, June 5.
Private Hanks was killed in action at Luxemborg February 7,1945, in World War II.

Arriving at 3:45 a.m. Sunday by Southern Pacific train the body will be taken to Geesey and Ferguson Funeral Home.
Funeral services have been scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home and the Kibo-deaux and Hanks cemetery.

Survivors include his wife, the former Thelma Murphy, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ferman Hanks of Crowley, one son,
Harvey, his three brothers, Fred, Eddie and Kearney, all of Crowley, five sisters, Mrs. Walter Smith, Mrs. Cecil Perry,
Mrs. Francis Broussard, Mrs. Willie Trahan, Mrs. Edward Murphy, also all of Crowley.

The funeral services will be conducted by Reverend Evariste Hebert.

A detail from Company I of the 156th Infantry of which Sgt. Gerald Martin will have charge will meet the train
and a firing squad will fire a volley at the close of the services.

Members of Acadia Post 15 of the American Legion will also assist in the services.

From the Crowley Daily Signal June 3, 1949

 

 

 


Pfc. Ernie Hanks
son of M/M Fermin Hanks

Reburial Rites To Be Sunday For PFC Ernie Hanks

Crowley Soldier's Body To Arrive Here At 3:45 A. M. Sunday

The body of Pfc. Ernie Hanks will arrive Sunday morning at 3:45 via Southern Pacific railroad and will be
taken to the Geesey-Ferguson Funeral home, where funeral services will be held at 4 p.m. by Rev. Evariste Hebert.
Interment will follow in the Kibodeaux and Hanks cemetery.

A detail from Company I of the 156th. Infantry in charge of Sgt. Gerald Martin will meet the train and a firing squad
will fire a volley at the close of the services. Members of Acadia Post 15 of the American Legion will assist
in the military services.

Survivors include his wife, the former Thelma Murphy, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fermin Hanks of Crowley;
one son, Harvey; three brothers, Fred, Eddie and Kearney of Crowley; five sisters, Mrs. Walter Smith,
Mrs. Cecil Perry, Mrs. Francis Brous-sard, Mrs. Willie Trahan and Mrs. Edward Murphy of Crowley.

Preston Mauboules, Commander of the American Legion and Harvey J. Matte, commanding officer of Company I,
have requested that all Legionnaires and National Guardsmen attend the funeral.

From the Crowley Daily Signal June 4, 1949

 

 

 

Ernie Hanks was listed in the 22nd Infantry Regiment Yearbook,
published in 1946, as a former member of the Regiment. His name is marked (above) by a red star.

 

 

 

 

The Purple Heart Medal, for wounds received in action, to PFC Ernie Hanks,
was finally presented to his family in 2013, some 68 years after his death,
thanks to the efforts of Allen Welch, a veteran and friend of the family.
Below is the certificate for that Medal:

 

The award certificate for the Purple Heart Medal of Ernie Hanks.

 

 

 

The orders announcing the award of the Purple Heart Medal to PFC Ernie Hanks.

 

 

 

Burial:
North Hanks Cemetery
Crowley
Acadia Parish
Louisiana

 

Grave marker for Ernie Hanks

Photo by Brenda Menard Cobb from the Find A Grave website

 

 

 

 

 

The son of Ernie Hanks (right) receives the State of Louisiana Veterans Honor Medal
on behalf of his father, from Allen Welch (left).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

¹ Allen Welch

Top photo, obituaries, certificates and Report of Burial courtesy of Allen Welch.

 

The 1st Battalion website is grateful to Allen Welch,
for his work honoring the memory of PFC Ernie Hanks of the 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry,
and for his assistance in the preparation of this page.

Allen's dedicated and tireless efforts on behalf of Lousiana Veterans, and their families,
is a truly remarkable and inspiring example to us all. A veteran himself, Allen's work
insures that these heroes will always be remembered and honored.

We here at the 1st Battalion website salute Allen Welch, of Crowley, Louisiana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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