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Colonel David Hackworth, 1931-2004

Hack joined the Army at the tail end of WW2, lying about his age so that he could enlist at the age of 15. He served in Vietnam, where he became the youngest full colonel at the age of 40. By the time he was forced to retire in 1971 after publicly criticizing the Army's tactics on ABC's Issues and Answers, he had spent seven of his 26 years in combat, won ten Silver Stars, eight Bronze Stars, eight Purple Hearts, and the Distinguished Service Cross. He was recommended for the Medal of Honor three times. Combat SF fans who knew of him recognized him immediately as "Colonel Cutprice" in John Ringo's novels Gust Front, When The Devil Dances, and Hell's Faire; in real life, he was a fierce critic of the Pentagon because he loved the Army and its soldiers.

I think Phil Carter said it best:

Hack dedicated himself fully to the pursuit of soldiering, and there is no doubt that he came to master it. Hack also devoted his life to his country, both while he served in uniform and afterwards, something I admire a great deal. Despite his disenchantment with the Army and the United States after Vietnam, Hack eventually returned to become one of this country's most strident advocates on defense policy issues. You could always rely on Hack to tell the story from the grunt's perspective, and also to call BS when he smelled it. On occasion, he was a little trigger-happy; I'm not sure all his criticisms hit the mark. But his heart was generally in the right place, and his work as a soldier and a patriot made this country stronger. I read all of his books, and while I didn't agree with every word, I certainly learned a lot from each one.

I never met Colonel Hackworth face to face; I knew him only through his book About Face and his columns for the King Syndicate. He deserved a better death than the lingering agony of cancer, but only God knows what we truly deserve, and sometimes shit just happens.

Via Phil Carter, among others.