In January 1969, one of the most promising young lieutenant colonels the U.S. Army had ever seen touched down in Vietnam for his second tour of duty, which would turn out to be his most daring and legendary. David H. Hackworth had just completed the writing of a tactical handbook for the Pentagon, and now he had been ordered to put his counterguerilla-fighting theories into action. He was given the morale-drained 4/39th -- a battalion of poorly led draftees suffering the Army's highest casualty rate and considered its worst fighting battalion. Hackworth's hard-nosed, inventive and inspired leadership quickly turned the 4/39th into Vietnam's valiant and ferocious Hardcore Recondos.
Drawing on interviews with soldiers from the Hardcore Battalion conducted over the past decade by his partner and coauthor, Eilhys England, Hackworth takes readers along on their sniper missions, ambush actions, helicopter strikes and inside the quagmire of command politics. With Steel My Soldiers' Hearts, Hackworth places the brotherhood of the 4/39th into the pantheon of our nation's most heroic warriors.
Steel My Soldiers' Hearts is retired Colonel David Hackworth's account of his tour of duty in Vietnam commanding the 4/39th, an infantry battalion operating south of Saigon in the Mekong River delta. Poorly led (the previous commander had based the battalion in the middle of a mine field), with frightfully high casualties (40 percent during the six months prior to Hackworth's arrival), and fighting in the most dangerous of terrain, the 4/39th was a dispirited and demoralized group when Hackworth assumed command in January, 1969. Upon arrival, Hackworth fired many of the senior officers and then put the 4/39th through "Combat 101," which made him so unpopular that at one point Hackworth was warned of a bounty some of his men had put out on him. Over the next five months, however, Hackworth would transform the 4/39 from "hopeless to hardcore," dramatically reverse the casualty rate, score some spectacular victories over the Viet Cong, and earn the undying respect of his troops. Here's a gung ho and earthy firsthand account of the Vietnam War that fans of We Were Soldiers Once... will appreciate. --Harry C. Edwards