As early as June 1956, Hawkins indicated his desire to return home in an interview with a British journalist. Finally, in late February 1957, he departed mainland China and crossed over into British-ruled Hong Kong. He stated that the major motivation for his departure from China was the way the Soviets had suppressed the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, which turned him off to Communism. He was the 7th ex-U.S. Army soldier to come back after defecting to China. He soon flew to Los Angeles, California, landing there on March 2, 1957. In total, he had spent more than three years living in China. On June 23, 1957, he gave an interview with Mike Wallace, explaining his decision to defect, and his motivations for eventually returning to the United States.