David Haskell Hackworth was a remarkable American who reportedly coined the phrase “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” Next to Audie Murphy he was one of the most decorated individuals to serve in the US Army. He served gallantly in Vietnam where he earned high accolades from both his superiors and those who served under him in battle. His attitude toward the Vietnam War began to change as he saw more and more of the useless destruction to people and country it had wrought.
His changed attitude toward the Vietnam War was trumpeted during an ABC interview near Saigon when in June of 1971 he declared that the war was unwinnable and called for immediate U.S. withdrawal. This statement immediately caused him to become a persona non grata with the military hierarchy. Shortly after that event he left the service of the armed forces and became among other things and anti-nuclear war activist.
There was a very informative story into the Colonel in The Independent Australia website title: Colonel David Hackworth: The man who loved the smell of napalm and hated war. The story was submitted by Dr. Norm Sanders. Sanders told of a change meeting with Hackworth in New Zealand while both were speaking at a rally protesting visiting American warships in 1984. It turned out Hackworth and Sanders, an emigre who had renounced his American citizenship, had a lot in common. They both were from the same area of Southern California and had surfed on the same beaches.
Sanders was running for a seat in the Australian Senate in Tasmania and was being frozen out by the media. Hackworth offered to help get some coverage and that began a long time friendship. Sanders story in the Independent Australia goes on to describe Hackworth’s career in the military and his post military activities as an anti-war activist. It is a very informative story for this podcast episode.