Friday, May 06, 2005

Col. David Hackworth

Col. David Hackworth died yesterday. He had been battling bladder cancer, he was in Mexico for treatment. He had been ill for some time but I had no idea that he was sick.

"Hack", as he was affectionately known, was an outspoken critic of military policy that needlessly put America's young warriors in harm's way. He criticized every administration's policies, everything from the table of organization to weapons and equipment.

He lied about his age in order to join the Merchant Marines during WW2, he was 14 years old .

At 15 he joined the US Army as a enlisted man and served at the end of WW2 until his retirement 26 years later.

He received a battlefied commission in Korea and became that war's youngest Army Captain.

After almost five years in Vietnam Hack's cup runneth over. In 1971, as the Army's youngest colonel he spoke out on national television saying, "This is a bad war ... it can't be won we need to get out." In that interview, he also said that the North Vietnamese flag would fly over Saigon in four years -- a prediction that turned out to be right on target. He was the only senior officer to sound off about the insanity of the war. Understandably, Nixon and the Army weren't real happy with his shooting off his mouth.

Hack, was all about his troops and his troops were every ground pounder, sailor and fly boy that served this country. He was all about the troops!


Individual Decorations & Service Medals:
* Distinguished Service Cross (with one Oak Leaf Cluster)
* Silver Star (with nine Oak Leaf Clusters)
* Legion of Merit (with three Oak Leaf Clusters)
* Distinguished Flying Cross
* Bronze Star Medal (with "V" Device & seven Oak Leaf Clusters)(Seven of the awards for heroism)
* Purple Heart (with seven Oak Leaf Clusters)
* Air Medal (with "V" Device & Numeral 34)(One for heroism and 33 for aerial achievement)
* Army Commendation Medal (w/ "V" Device & 3 Oak Leaf Clusters)
* Good Conduct Medal
* World War II Victory Medal
* Army of Occupation Medal (with Germany and Japan Clasps)
* National Defense Service Medal (with one Bronze Service Star)
* Korean Service Medal (with Service Stars for eight campaigns)
* Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
* Vietnam Service Medal (2 Silver Service Stars = 10 campaigns)
* Armed Forces Reserve Medal

Unit Awards:
* Presidential Unit Citation
* Valorous Unit Award (with one Oak Leaf Cluster)
* Meritorious Unit Commendation

Badges & Tabs:
* Combat Infantryman Badge (w/ one Star; representing 2 awards)
* Master Parachutist Badge
* Army General Staff Identification Badge

Foreign Awards:
* United Nations Service Medal (Korea)
* Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device (1960)
* Vietnam Cross of Gallantry (with two Gold Stars)
* Vietnam Cross of Gallantry (with two Silver Stars)
* Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal (1st Class)
* Vietnam Staff Service Medal (1st Class)
* Vietnam Army Distinguished Service Order, 2d Class
* Vietnam Parachutist Badge (Master Level)
* Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
* Republic of Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation
* Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation (with three Palm oak leaf clusters)
* Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal, First Class Unit Citation (with one Palm oak leaf cluster)

World War II Merchant Marine Awards:
* Pacific War Zone Bar
* Victory Medal

Hack is an advocate of military reform and a believer that the big fire power -- "nuke-the-pukes" -- solution won't work anymore, but that doesn't mean war will go away. He sees big and little fights ahead and urges military reform. He believes passionately that "America needs a streamlined, hard hitting force for the 21st century" and beyond. Hack brings to his mission his unique experience acquired in almost 52 years of bouncing around hot and cold battlefields. He also brings an insider's view of the Pentagon and the military establishment made deadly current by input provided on a daily basis by serving warriors from around the globe. E-mail frequently brings him the word before the Pentagon gets it.

He was a frequent talk show guest and I have listened to him many times.

His books include "About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior", "Hazardous Duty", "The Price of Honor" and "Steel My Soldiers' Hearts", which is still in the book stores.

A man could do far worse with his life than to emulate David Hackworth.

Rest in peace, Hack, we will watch over your Troops.


Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Hackworth was the consummate soldier, always bitching about something.

He'll be missed.

Elijah said...

Incredible record. I dont think anyone I knew growing up knew anything about vietnem, why the war was fought etc...After reading a lot of books on the soviets I understood. Wasn't it Reagan who referred to them as the evil empire?
I have a book by Macnamara that sat on my shelf for the longest time, a recent book. I avoided reading it because of Vietnam burnout. I finally sat down and read it. His guilt was palpable throughout the book. Regardless, I believe they were right to intervene in vietnam, but that is one contentious issue.

Warren said...

Mr Beamish,

Yea, we bitch, we train then we bitch and sometimes we fight and then bitch. But mostly we bitch!

I haven't did any soldiering in decades, but I still bitch.


Warren said...


Mr Reagan was a truly remarkable man. He knew evil when he saw it and wasn't afraid to say what he had seen.

I wasn't a fan of Ronald Reagan in his first term, but in retrospect I can see that I had bought into some of the propaganda of the main stream media.

Ronald Reagan played a deep game that is unacknowledged. With the FBI and CIA he instituted policies that resulted in the Soviet intelligence an espionage services were rendered useless, both here and abroad, look here

Calling Vietnam contentious is like calling the Thirty Years War a tad long. It angers me that the aging lefties still look at their treatchery and traitorous actions with pride.

Elijah said...

I dont think a canadian can really comment on vietnam or american politics, unless they have really done their homework.Americans take their politics seriously, as they should, because they have a system that gives them a voice, unlike here. We have nothing like the congress or senate of america.

Warren said...

I can understand that, I usually do not comment on Canadian politics because I simply don't follow them closely enough.

I think one of the biggest failures of parliamentary type governments is the head of government is not responsible to the people.

But I urge you to be active in the process. In the long run, your MPs need to respond to the wishes of the voters.

Apathy is a terrible thing in any political system.

Teddy Roosevelt once said:

"The Roman Republic fell, not because of the ambition of Caesar or Augustus, but because it had already long ceased to be in any real sense a republic at all. When the sturdy Roman plebeian, who lived by his own labor, who voted without reward according to his own convictions, and who with his fellows formed in war the terrible Roman legion, had been changed into an idle creature who craved nothing in life save the gratification of a thirst for vapid excitement, who was fed by the state, and who directly or indirectly sold his vote to the highest bidder, then the end of the republic was at hand, and nothing could save it. The laws were the same as they had been, but the people behind the laws had changed, and so the laws counted for nothing." -

beakerkin said...

I want to distinguish the critique
of a Hackworth from a John Kerry.
Hackworth did not game the system for medals. Nor did he run around the country with fake veterans or make up fake attrocity stories. He reported what he saw and could not
be described as an opportunist.

BigBubba said...

Big Bubba was always a little unsure about totally supporting Col. Hackworth. I did agree with many of his opinions and theories.

The problem, with old soldiers, is we have a very strongly held belief that a soldier needs to be careful with what he says about the service, and how he says it, in public.

We look at the Mitchells, Hackworths, et al and admire their courage and the strength of their convictions. Many times we totally agree with them. We are just uncomfortable with soldiers going in the public arena with their criticism.

One problem with those who chose to go public is that they share the arena with pond scum like Hanoi John. Hanoi John is almost universally despised for what he said in public. When someone jumps in the mud puddle others get splattered.

For Elijah. There is a Canadian association for Canadians who come south to join us in Vietnam. Quite a few men made that choice. I remember serving with several.