Update : May 28,2005: Reading about the Memorial Service of Colonel David Hackworth (on Tuesday, 31 May, at 11:00am EDT at
the Main (new) Chapel, Ft. Myer, Arlington, Virginia) made me think once again of Apocalyse Now. Think of the rogue Colonel Kurz in Apocalypse Now played by Marlon Brando. Who was the model for the character? Colonel David Hackworth? The good Colonel Hackworth, ever the maverick, was accused by some of going around the bend. Colonel Kurz was pursued by then young Martin Sheen assigned to assassinate Kurz (Brando). All the Army wanted to do was court martial Hackworth who gave back his 80 medals to protest the Army's attempt to chastise him merely for calling Vietnam a "bad" and unwinnable war. Colonel Hackworth's 25 year military career included tours of duty in seven war zones. If he wasn't the model for Colonel Kurz played by Marlon Brando, he surely could have been. Who else would have called the military types of today, "perfumed princes" who love the sound of their own voices but Marlon Brando.
David Hackworth. David Hackworth died Wednesday May 4, 2005 in Tijuana, Mexico, where he was receiving treatment for bladder cancer. He is survived by his wife, a stepdaughter, and four children from two previous marriages.
An old soldier has died. To say that David Hackworth was a maverick would be an understatement. Someone asked me recently, "Was he really a good soldier?" He was a great soldier.
I didn't know him personally but admired his maverick spirit and the fact that he was a figure of a past and long gone Army. In today's world, he wouldn't have survived nearly as long as he did. He enlisted in the Army at fifteen and then was awarded a battlefield commission; he was the youngest captain in the Korean war. And, later, he was the youngest full colonel in Vietnam and won a total of 91 medals, including two DSC's (Distinguished Service Crosses), the second highest award often given when the paperwork is still being processed for the Congresstional Medal of Honor. He also received ten silver stars and eight purple hearts among other things.
The Colonel got the military ticked off at him in 1971 by going on TV and saying how dumb we were in prosecuting the Vietnam war. Hackworth recognized, because of his experience, that we could not win in Vietnam. We could not outlast Ho. How prophetic for today's Iraqnam.
I never met Colonel Hackworth and was not particularly a fan. A friend of mine had once worked for him and didn't speak too kindly; but after reading his book About Face, I knew he was a maverick that the military needed, but yet, couldn't tolerate. For The Colonel, he would have done fine if he could have stayed at war. Peace didn't work well for him. I'm a little sad to see the "old" soldier go. kt