Few Mekong units were in more deplorable shape than the 4th Batallion, 39th Infantry, headquartered in the middle of an enemy minefield. Their lack of morale and discipline was legendary. That is, until Col. David Hackworth was helicoptered into their camp with orders to turn the dispirited unit's performance around. Steel My Soldiers' Hearts is Hackworth's stirring first-person account of how -- over the next four months -- he transformed the battalion from duds to studs, earning an astonishing enemy-to-friendly kill ratio of 100-to-1, which made them the pride of the Army.
Hackworth's achievements did not come without considerable costs, often incurred by the meddling of glory-hungry senior officers. He doesn't mince words expressing distaste for his immediate superior, a clueless ice cream-slurping bungler ironically named Hunt. During the book's most harrowing sequence, an elaborate tactical field action is ruined when Hunt butts in, suddenly calling down a misplaced air strike upon his own troops.
Written in tough, earthy, colorful language ("I would rather have filled my fart sack with rattlesnakes," writes Hackworth of a proposed meeting with Hunt), Steel My Soldiers' Hearts packs a punch as hard as the muzzle of an AK-47, with a strong message that's as relevant today -- while America once again prepares to battle an invisible enemy -- as it was three decades ago, back in the steaming, blood-soaked rice paddies of the Mekong.
Steel My Soldiers' Hearts: The Hopeless to Hardcore Transformation of the U.S. Army, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, Vietnam by Col. David Hackworth and Eilhys England, St. Martin's Press, 441 pages, $27.95. Hackworth will be at Barnes & Noble, 2952 Cobb Parkway, July 17 from 7-8 p.m.
Little harsh, in'it?
Oh that's right...I DID say enjoy yourself.
Go to hell Kombo!
When will you be accepting applicants for the 2014 competition?
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