|Birth: ||Jul. 16, 1925|
New York, USA
|Death: ||Feb. 2, 1944, Marshall Islands|
Stephen "Hoppy" Hopkins was the son of Ethel Gross and Harry Lloyd Hopkins (US Secretary of Commerce and adviser to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt).
PFC Hopkins began his service in the USMC as an officer candidate. How he became a private soldier in the Weapons Platoon of A Company, 24th Marine Regiment is a story in and of itself, and is here related by Captain Irving Schechter, CO of the company in question. The following is from his 1982 interview in Henry Berry's "Semper Fi, Mac."
There is one incident that occurred while we were at Camp Pendleton that concerns the son of a famous man who insisted on going into combat as an enlisted man. He paid for this act with his life and I think he should be remembered.
The story starts one night in the summer of '43. I was over at the HQ when my first sergeant called me on the phone.
"Captain," he said, "I have a young PFC here whose orders say he is to report to A Company."
"Okay, sergeant," I answered, "process him and get him squared away in the morning."
"But, captain, there is something screwy about the address of his next of kin."
"Why's that, sergeant?"
"It's the White House, Washington D. C."
As you might assume, I was a little taken aback.
"Oh," I said, "well, what's the name of his next of kin?"
"Harry Hopkins, sir."
This did make things a little interesting. I decided to go to my office and have young Hopkins meet me there. His first name was Steve.
He arrived at my office and gave me the proper salute. I asked him to sit down.
"Hopkins," I said, "I see you have been in officers' training and I'm somewhat puzzled as to why you should show up here. There is no mention of your flunking out of OCS."
"No, sir," he answered, "I did not flunk out; I just got damn sick and tired of getting the needle about my having some kind of an easy job because I was Harry Hopkins's son. My dad has believed in this war since it started and so have his sons. I'm anxious to go overseas and back up what my father stands for because I stand for the same things."
"Okay, Hopkins," I told him, "we'll get you into machine guns in the morning."
Well,when we finally left San Diego, we were stationed aboard our transports until we reached the Marshalls. We had a chance to go ashore some at Honolulu, but never overnight. And when you spend a long period of time aboard a transport, you have plenty of time to study the men you live with in such close proximity. This is what I did concerning Steve Hopkins. I wasn't trying to be fatherly, mind you; he was only a few years younger than I. I just wanted to make sure he was for real. He was.
There he was, every day, field stripping that machine gun of his, cleaning the barrel, checking the ammunition, and above all, fitting right in with his fire team. He was gung-ho all right.
Well, we went into the Roi-Namur part of the Marshalls around the beginning of February. Our battalion went ashore on Namur... whenever you have to kill a few thousand Japanese, you always lose men yourself. One of the Marines we lost here was young Hopkins. He had kept his machine gun going right into the middle of a banzai charge until he took a bullet in his head."
During the fighting on Namur, PFC Hopkins doubtless saved the lives of many of his comrades by covering a "dead" Japanese soldier. Lieutenant Philip E. Wood remembered:
"A burst of machine gun fire came from a blockhouse we were approaching, we all dove for nearby trenches, and Steve Hopkins and I landed in a small one. On a small projection lay a Jap – I thought him dead, and passed by him up the trench. Hoppy kept an eye on him, though, and when the wounded Jap rolled over to throw the grenade he had in his hand, Hoppy shot him. The kid was white-faced and chattery – "Did you see, Mr. Wood? Did you see the grenade? Did you see what he was going to do?"
Hopkins was killed during a night attack on February 2, 1944. PFC George Smith, the gunner on Hoppy's crew remembered:
"...at this time the only organized resistance was directly in front of A Co with that pillbox anchoring the left side of their line, the distance between our lines being no more than 25 yards. We trotted up the road until we came to a "Heavy" (with the Lieut. behind the gun for fire discipline) set up just off the right side of the road. We moved off the road to the right about 10 or 15 yards and started to set up the gun, as we were doing so I saw somebody moving off to our right near the beach and ask Hoppy to cover him. Hop just turned to bring up his weapon when I saw the muzzle flash and Hop went down. He hung on till he reached the hospital ship the next morning, and they buried him at sea."
PFC Stephen P. Hopkins was carried to the USS Calvert, where doctors noted with clinical precision that the young man suffered from cranial avulsions. He never regained consciousness.
Hopkins is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing.
Note: Entered the service from D.C..
Plot: Courts of the Missing
Created by: Geoffrey Roecker
Record added: May 19, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 26946348
Added: Aug. 16, 2010