Carnegie Medal Presentation to the family of Thomas Lee Hawk

The family of Thomas Lee Hawk gathered to accept his posthumous Carnegie Medal for Heroism at the Morgan County Public Safety Complex in Madison, Georgia, on April 4. Rep. Mike Collins and Morgan County Fire Chief Garret Smith presented the medal. Pictured, from left to right, are Collins, Hawk’s daughter, Mackenzie, his son, Eric, his widow, Amanda, and Smith.

Hawk was awarded the Carnegie Medal for attempting to rescue his son from burning in Bostwick, Georgia, on Dec. 16, 2022. Eric, 13, was in a bedroom of his family’s one-story house when flames broke out in the attic at one end of the house and spread. Smoke entered Eric’s bedroom, and he called father, who was next door at Eric’s grandfather’s house. Hawk ran to the burning house, followed by the grandfather. Hawk entered the house through a door near to the fire’s origin. The grandfather attempted to enter the house through its front door, but could not open it. He then attempted to go in the same door as Hawk, but flames, heat, and smoke precluded his entry. The grandfather heard Eric shouting for help and went to his bedroom window. He removed an air conditioner from the window and pulled Eric through the opening, then dragged him away from the house. Eric suffered severe smoke inhalation and was hospitalized for a few days. Hawk’s body was found in the hallway near Eric’s bedroom. He sustained burns to his body, including his head and hands, and died from inhaling smoke and soot.

“He was a hard worker who deeply, deeply loved his family. Everything he did, he did it for his family,” said Fire Chief Garret Smith. “He taught by example making sure his family knew it was better to give than to receive … Your father did what he did because he loved you more than anything in this world.”

“We will always remember your dad and husband with the character of a hero because he was willing to sacrifice to make sure someone else could live,” added Rep. Collins.

Amanda Hawk looks forward to launching a new scholarship program to commemorate Hawk’s legacy.

“It’s a way for me and the kids to give back in his honor,” said Amanda Hawk. “Anyone who knew Thomas knows he had a big heart … Our goal is not to shed a tear, but to share a smile as we remember Thomas Lee Hawk who always went the extra mile for his family and his community.”