One of the most decorated soldiers of his generation, U.S. Army Colonel David Hackworth, (74) has just died in Tijuana, Mexico.
Colonel Hackworth joined the Army just after the Second World War, and was surely one of the most talented and courageous individuals ever to put on the uniform. Holder of a Distinguished Service Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, a Silver Star with nine oak-leaf clusters, a Distinguished Flying Cross, a Bronze Stars with "V" device and seven Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Purple Heart with seven Oak Leaf Clusters, and a whole chest-full of other medals. Recommended for the Medal of Honor three times, the last recommendation is still under review in Washington. Veteran of Korea, and of four tours in Vietnam, Hackworth was pilloried by the Army brass when he spoke out against the conduct of the Vietnam War.
Ultimately, Hackworth resigned his commission, giving up his medals in protest, and went to Australia making millions in the restaurant business and running a duck farm. Finally, Colonel Hackworth came home, and covered the First Gulf War as a war correspondent for Newsweek. Some measure of vindication came: his books (both memoirs and novels) were well-received, and the Army ultimately reissued his medals. Even after leaving Newsweek, he always spoke out for the interests of ordinary soldiers, and against the "perfumed princes" he felt were ruining the military. He had no patience with those unwilling to "stand in the door" and do the right thing, whatever it cost.
Look up his books -- they are all excellent reading. The U.S. Army and the country were much the poorer when he left the service, and his contributions to public discourse will be missed.
UPDATE: A splendidly written obituary is available at Colonel Hackworth's website, here.