David Haskell Hackworth (1930 – 2005) was the most highly decorated US Army Colonel who fought in the Korea War and the Vietnam War, starting his brilliant military career as a non-commissioned officer. Hackworth, or Hack, took part in the creation and command of Tiger Force, which was an elite military unit created during the Vietnam War to apply guerrilla warfare tactics to the fight against Viet Cong. It was a similar counter-insurgency tactical approach applied by the Australians in the same war. He was decorated with eight Purple Hearts, 10 Silver Stars, two Distinguished Service Cross, 8 Bronze Stars, one Distinguished Flying Cross, etc.
David Hackworth was born in California on November 11, 1930. In 1945, at the end of World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Merchant Marine, when he was 14, lying about his age. After the war, he lied again to enlist in the United States Army. He was assigned as a rifleman to the 351st Infantry, 88th Infantry Division, and stationed on occupation duty in Trieste as a non-commissioned officer. Hackworth fought in Korea with the 25th Reconnaissance Company, the 8th Rangers, and finally the 27th Infantry (Wolfhound) Regiment of the 25th Infantry Division (Light) He gained a battlefield commission as a lieutenant and was awarded several medals for valor, and several Purple Hearts for being wounded several times. After a successful raid on Hill 1062 and battlefield promotion to 1st Lieutenant, the commander of the 27th Infantry Regiment offered Hackworth command of a new volunteer raider unit. Hackworth created the 27th Wolfhound Raiders and led them from August to November 1951. He subsequently volunteered for a second tour in Korea, this time with the 40th Infantry Division. Hackworth was promoted to the rank of captain.
When the cease-fire in Korea was signed, Hackworth was demobilized. He attended college two years, but he soon became bored with civilian life and reentered the Army in 1956 as a captain. In 1965, he was sent to Vietnam as a Major, serving as an operations officer and battalion commander in the 101st Airborne Division. He quickly developed a reputation as an eccentric but effective soldier. After he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, Hackworth co-wrote "The Vietnam Primer" with General Marshall. The book adopted some of the same tactics as Mao Zedong, the Cuban rebels, and the Viet Cong in fighting guerrillas. Hackworth described the strategy as "out-G-ing the G."
In 1971, Lieutenant Colonel David Hackworth was raised to the rank of colonel, and received orders to attend the Army War College, but he rejected this offer. Hackworth was nearly court-martialed for various infractions such as running a brothel for his troops in Vietnam, running gambling houses, and exploiting his position for personal profit by manipulating U.S. currency. At the same time, he was experiencing personal problems that resulted in divorce. He was allowed to retire, in order to avoid a court martial, at the rank of colonel, and in an effort to rebuild his life, Hackworth moved to Australia with a smutch of corruption on his military career. When he returned to the US, he became a Democratic-party-leaned journalist.
Hack Hackworth died on May 5, 2005, in Tijuana Mexico. He was 74 years old. The cause of death was a form of cancer now appearing with increasing frequency among Vietnam veterans exposed to the defoliants called Agents Orange and Blue.