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What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Remembering David Hackworth

Last week America lost one of its most highly decorated veterans, Col. David Hackworth, to bladder cancer on May 5. You may have seen Col. Hackworth on one of the cable news debate shows. If you ever served in the military, or are currently serving, chances are you know who Hack is. He lived a remarkable life. He's been an advocate for veterans and active-duty service members, using his syndicated column, television appearances, web site and his books to spread his message of support for the troops, and bringing light to issues affecting the troops, whether it was reporting on the shortage of body armor or the fact that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was using a machine to sign letters of condolence to family members who had lost loved ones in Iraq.

Hack was critical of the handling of the war in Iraq, and not afraid to say so. Hack certainly enraged some of the brass at the Pentagon. We live in a world of black and white thinking, a "with us or against us" attitude that conservatives have used against anyone who is critical of the Bush administration. I know as a veteran who has opposed the war that my own patriotism has been questioned. I'm sure some have questioned Hack's patriotism, but that would be an indefensible position.

Born in 1930, Hack enlisted in the Merchant Marines at the age of 14, and proceeded to spend the next 26 years in the U.S. Army, serving tours in Korea and Vietnam. He was one of the most highly decorated soldiers ever, earning 80 medals and ribbons in service to his country, including the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star, and numerous Purple Hearts. At 40 he became the youngest full-bird colonel in the U.S. Army.

In 1971 Hack appeared on the ABC television program Issue and Answers and was critical of the way the war in Vietnam was being handled. The Army forced his retirement and he eventually moved to Australia and became a successful entrepreneur. After his book About Face was published, Hack returned to the United States. From 1990-1996, Hack wrote for Newsweek magazine.

At his web site, Hack brought attention to issues affecting active-duty service members, veterans and their families. He wrote a syndicated column, Defending America, advocating for service members and veterans.

Although I never met Hack, I did correspond with him occasionally via e-mail. Despite his busy schedule, Hack always had the time to write back, answering questions or offering opinions on various subjects.

Hack touched many lives, as is evident by the thousands of entries in his guestbook, with civilians, active-duty military and veterans paying their respects.

Hack, fair winds and following seas.

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