Col. David H. Hackworth, Soldier, Writer, War Correspondent, 1930-2005

I read Hackworth’s About Face in law school, and his Steel My Soldiers’ Hearts a year or two ago. Both are excellent books which I strongly commend to you. They give a feel for the man and the reality of fighting — and for what it takes to live and function and succeed under extremely adverse conditions.

Hackworth joined the Army as a 15 year old kid. He was a brave and skillful warrior. Like most such men it is clear that he was not always an easy person to deal with. He left the Army because the Army would not let him fight the Vietnam war in a way that would allow us to win. In recent years he worked as journalist and published on the Soldiers for the Truth website.

Hackworth spent seven years of his life in combat assignments.

The overwhelming sense you get from his life and writing is that he had an absolute devotion to the wellbeing and survival and success of the American soldier — or warrior, as he would have put it — as he saw it. In particular, he was a relentless critic of anyone or anything that might prevent American soldiers from having what they needed to be effective and successful and as safe as reasonably possible. You got the sense from reading his site that anyone in uniform anywhere in the world, if they suffered or saw some abuse going on, felt that they would have a champion who would raise Hell about it, if they let “Hack” know about it. I did not always agree with everything he wrote. But there is absolutely no doubt that his heart was in the right place and that he was a man of moral and physical courage who spoke his mind, and the consequences be damned.

Col. Hackworth was an American original, and his voice will be missed.

Rest in peace, sir.

(Phil Carter has this post, linking to this obituary; further details here. )

7 thoughts on “Col. David H. Hackworth, Soldier, Writer, War Correspondent, 1930-2005”

  1. I haven’t read his books but I always enjoyed watching on TV his straight-talk, which I am sure offended many intellectuals of the Left.

  2. Well, for one he called a lot of them “Perfumed Princes!” Hack had no love for any officer that didn’t keep his men (and now also women) as his first priority. He really loathed ticket-punchers (those who looked out for their career above all). He made sure they all knew how he felt about them and their billion dollar weapons systems — and quite publicly, too.

  3. What Don Miguel said. He went on the offensive any time the military bureaucracy was acting in a way that was harmful to “the grunts”, the people who actually went where the bullets were flying. If some weapon was junk, he said so; if some strategy was not working, he said so; if someone was getting screwed to cover up the failure of someone higher up, he said so.

    That kind of thing.

  4. That’s an important role. I hope there’s someone else waiting in the wings to make sure that continues.

  5. Folks – there is a great article (Monday, May 9) by Victor Davis Hanson in the editorial section of Wall Street Journal. VHD’s central thesis is that it is characters like Col. Hackworth who help a free society win wars … individualism may be an abstraction to other human endeavors, but on the battlefield it is the difference between life and death.

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