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One of the Most Decorated Veterans of All Time: The Col. David Hackworth Story

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 25, 2024 3:02 am

One of the Most Decorated Veterans of All Time: The Col. David Hackworth Story

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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April 25, 2024 3:02 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, General Mukoyama served as a company commander under Colonel David Hackworth in Vietnam. Hackworth was one of the most highly-decorated Infantry Officers in the history of the United States Army. Here’s the General with the story of the legendary Col. David Hackworth.

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I promise. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. Major General James Mukayama rose from his humble blue collar Chicago roots to become the first Asian American to command the U.S. Army Division. General Mook, as he's known amongst friends and people who know him, is the author of Faith, Family, and Flag, Memoirs of an Unlikely American Samurai Crusader. General Mukayama served as a company commander under Colonel David Hackworth in Vietnam. Hackworth was one of the most highly decorated infantry officers in the history of the United States Army.

Here's the General with the story of Colonel David Hackworth. When you're in the Army, when you leave an overseas assignment, they give you what's called a dream sheet, and you say where you'd like your next assignment to be. So here I am, I'm at Korea, so I put in my dream sheet, and I said I want to go to Fort Benning, Georgia, I want to go to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, that's where all the airborne units were located, okay?

And they sent me to Fort Lewis, Washington, about as far away as you could, and not in an airborne unit, and I'm now at the training center, and we are training advanced individual infantry soldiers to go to Vietnam. That was our mission, and I had met a Colonel David Hackworth, one of the most highly decorated and renowned infantry soldiers in the history of the United States Army. Colonel Hackworth had a battlefield commission at 19 years old in Korea, and was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest award for valor, right below the Medal of Honor, and four Purple Hearts.

This is all on one tour in Korea, right? So he comes back from Korea, he gets his GED, by the way, then he gets his bachelor's degree, writes prolifically about infantry tactics, three tours in Vietnam, commands two battalions, is awarded another Distinguished Service Cross, and earn four more Purple Hearts. This guy had eight Purple Hearts. I told people he wasn't the smartest guy I knew, but he was the luckiest, and that's the guy you want to be with in combat, frankly. But his knowledge was just so tremendous, and I had met him at Fort Lewis, and we had done some things together, and then he volunteers again for Vietnam, so he goes to Vietnam to command the infantry battalion. So I'm back at Fort Lewis, commanding a training company, and by the way, he used to call me Mook. He couldn't pronounce Mookoyama, and I used to call him Sir. That's how I got my nickname, which just stuck with me. People would call me General Mook. So anyway, I get a letter from Hackworth, and he said, Mook, what are you doing still at Fort Lewis? We've got a war going on.

If you want a company, it's yours. It's like I died and went to heaven. I mean, just to command a company in combat under Colonel Hackworth, I mean, as an infantry officer, it doesn't get any better than that. So I immediately volunteered for Vietnam the second time. This time they took me up on my offer, and I got to Vietnam with Colonel Hackworth. Our battalion was the 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, in the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam. Vietnam was separated into four geographic areas from north to south, and they were called 1st Corps, 2nd Corps, 3rd Corps, 4th Corps. So we were in 4th Corps and in the Mekong Delta.

By the time I got to the unit, Hackworth had already trained it up. It was a tremendously effective combat fighting unit, and he nicknamed our battalion the hardcore. He had a knack of using different things to motivate people. For example, our companies, instead of using the fanatic alphabet, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, our companies were Alert, Battle, Claymore, and Dagger. Those were our four companies. And our platoons, instead of 1st, 2nd, 3rd platoon, were red, white, and blue. And he gave us all the elite units have a special sign, the call sign and counter sign. And so when an enlisted man would see an officer in our battalion, they would salute and say, hardcore recondo, sir. And the response from the officer was no effing slack. I'm not saying the whole thing is, but that's what... And I saw a wounded soldier on a stretcher and Hackworth walks up to him, and the guy salutes and says, hardcore recondo, sir. That's how high the morale was in our battalion. In fact, Hackworth got his eighth Purple Heart in our battalion when he landed his command and control helicopter in the middle of a firefight to pick up guys who were wounded, seriously wounded. I mean, you never do that.

Command and control helicopters are very small. There's not a lot of room in it. Well, Hackworth puts these two wounded guys in it. There's no room for him. So he stands on the skids and they take off and he gets hit in the leg. After he did that, he could tell us, I want you to walk through a wall of fire.

And we'd just say, where? I was honored to have known him for many years after that until he died. He died about, wow, he's died about 20 years ago. But I was honored to be at his funeral at Arlington National, which is where I will have the honor of being buried when the good Lord takes me. And a terrific job on the production and editing by our own Greg Hengler. And a special thanks to Major General James Mukayama, General Mook, and his storytelling, letting us know a little bit more about Colonel David Hackworth. And he was one of the most highly decorated infantry officers in the history of the United States Army. Eight Purple Hearts, two Distinguished Service Crosses, and a Team Builder, a Morale Builder of Unrivaled Talents. The story of Colonel David Hackworth, told by Major General James Mukayama here on Our American Stories. This is Lee Habib, host of Our American Stories, the show where America is the star in the American people.

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