Twentieth Century Soldier
by Lieutenant Colonel Wes Martin
December 1996

It is of little surprise that COL David Hackworth was born on November 11. This was the same date the allied forces delivered peace to the world in 1918. Hack's life is the classic example of a soldier fighting to again bring such peace. His life is also an example of what dedication, commitment, hard work, and faith can accomplish.

As a 15 year old, David enlisted in the Army. In a short time he was a combat-seasoned Korean War veteran, having gone AWOL from his dysfunctional unit in search of one that was willing to fight. Before the war was over, Hack was the youngest captain in the conflict.

During the Vietnam War, his battlefield skills became legendary. But as the death toll continued to climb in a war that still had no clear objectives or battle lines, Hack became totally disgusted. After continually trying to address the problems with senior commanders, he took the truth to the public. On television's Issues and Answers, Hack accurately predicted the outcome of the war and denounced it as unwinnable under current constraints. After being forced from the military for speaking the truth, he took up residence in America's most capable ally - Australia.

Over the years Hack became involved in several business ventures, including a restaurant, a duck farm, and a laundry service. By applying imagination and commitment, he achieved outstanding success in each endeavor. Meanwhile, realizing nuclear weapons escalation had gotten out of hand, Hack established a nuclear control action group. His efforts were replicated by two foreign governments, but not his own. For his success, Hack was awarded the United Nations Medal for Peace.

COL Hackworth still had a story that needed to be told. The result was About Face, an 850-page book that became an international best seller and an instant military classic. It also became several other things: a guide book to young officers and NCOs of the same military that once had Hack cast out, and an inspiration for those who had stood up for the truth and were knocked down.

At 60, when most men think of settling down, David Hackworth became a war correspondent. During Desert Storm, he accurately predicted Schwarzkopf's "Hail Mary" maneuver. The general was convinced Hackworth had gained access to classified documents. In truth, Hack knew military history better than the allied commander's staff. The "Hail Mary" maneuver was used by Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorville, copied by Patton in Sicily, and now copied by Schwarzkopf on the Arabian Peninsula.

Whether Hack's articles come from the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Korea, or Haiti, he is one of the few with guts enough to present unvarnished facts. For this he has earned many national and international awards, including the 1994 George Washington medal from the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge. His career as a war correspondent is now captured in his latest endeavor, his best-selling book Hazardous Duty.

So where does this American hero stop. The answer is, he doesn't! Hack visited New Mexico for a few days in early October. The agenda he was presented would have dropped most men half his age. From the time Hack stepped off the airplane until he stepped back onto another, he had 64 hours. Subtract three nights of sleep and 40 hours were left to conduct two radio shows, a television special, three book signings, a presentation to JROTC students, a promotion ceremony (mine), a personal visit to Santa Fe, and a tour of the Kirtland AFB Education center. I was with Hack during this entire time and came to realize why he was so successful on the battlefield. The enemy couldn't stay ahead of him.

During our time together, driving him from place to place, talking over a meal, or my listening to him speak to a group, I came to understand more about him. COL Hackworth radiates energy. Anyone in his presence for any period of time will become convinced there is nothing that cannot be achieved. He or she will also feel an enormous commitment to mankind and to the USA. This man speaks out against government and military corruption because he has identified both as cancers, eating away at our national defense. We can learn a lot from the lessons he teaches, lessons written in About Face and Hazardous Duty. They are not only the result of his military experience, but those of the ages. A soldier's knowledge is traced back to what has been passed on by those who have gone before. Each generation adds to the knowledge. Each generation also adds to the legacy. Listening to Hack caused me to remember something I had written many years before - Ares' Legacy. No true soldier really dies, but lives on in accomplishment, knowledge, and spirit of other dedicated soldiers who follow. I can think of no person who better epitomizes Ares' Legacy than Colonel Hackworth.

I have fought beside Ulysses at the walls of Troy
The Carthaginian Empire I did destroy
Following William I landed upon England's shores
Defending Spain I held Valencia from the Moors.

Serving Frederick I marched far from Berlin's gates
Commanded by Wellington I sealed Napoleon's fate
With Rommel I dashed over the European plain
For Patton I raced to cross the Seine.

On each side I've fought every war since history
Often praying to the same God for victory
The future is determined on whether I stand
Blood I shed settles deep into battlefield sands.

Like uniforms and weapons I change with the times
To survive I learned mobility and fluid lines
Fortress walls may provide temporary defense
Victory cannot be achieved without offense

While marching through the ages I have often cursed
As over mountains, rivers, deserts I traversed
Thoughts drift to far off places when moving to contact
Once the first volley is fired, I never look back.

In many forms I have battled with lance and shield
From my place in history I shall never yield
Providence shall bring many more conflicts to fight
With the strength of my blade to decide who is right.

Though many years have passed since David Hackworth wore the uniform of a soldier, he is still every bit a dedicated warrior who continues to fight for his country. His battles are no longer fought with weapons of destruction, he has long since sheathed his sword. He has taken up the mightier weapon, the pen. He travels from conflict to conflict uncovering the truth, continuously fighting for the men and women of all armed forces.

In the introduction to Hazardous Duty, he states that his love is to the warriors. They are the ones who fight, bleed, and die. It is the wasteful deaths that most appall him. Warriors should never die because they were not properly equipped, not fully trained, not led by the most qualified. It is on this battleground that he still stands and fights. This is the reason today's service-members hold him in high esteem. He is the man who fights for them, while they fight for their nation. COL David Hackworth exemplifies DUTY...HONOR...COUNTRY.