One Hack of a Memento


Doing some long-overdue 'home office archaeology,' I ran across a little book that was written by one of my fave military legends, the late Col. David Hackworth.

The book (not much bigger than an average periodical) is titled: "Military Operations -- Vietnam Primer -- Lessons Learned." Published by Headquarters, Department of the Army in 1997.

It was right around then that I had the distinct fortune to encounter Hack at a Nam Vets reunion and enjoyed a pleasant chat with him over the course of, oh say, 2-3 beers. During that, he asked what I did in Nam and I confessed to being an Army O-1 "Birddog" Recon and FAC Aviator.

That led to some lively discussion involving his recollections of working with Birddogs, both Army (brown) and Air Force (grey), on the multiple occasions when his unit may have "stepped in it" and how he grew to appreciate those little low-and-slow tail-draggers.

Upon parting ways for the day, he whupped out a copy of his new book and jotted down something on the inside cover. I presumed it was his autograph and thanked him profusely for it. He refused payment for the book, which I likewise appreciated as those funds were redirected to a worthy charitable cause -- a starving bartender.

Later that evening, back up in my hotel room, I decided to thumb through Hack's book to see what it was all about. That's when I noticed the full inscription:



Purty cool keepsake. Hack died of bladder cancer in 2005. Crisp HAND SALUTE, ol' Soldier. You were a handful.

Steve Harrison
Unit Callsign in Nam: Pterodactyl-33
Military nickname: Tuco

Posted 9 Jan., 2015