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Steel My Soldiers' Hearts

Steel My Soldiers' Hearts

The Hopeless to Hardcore Transformation of U.S. Army, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, Vietnam

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.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 464 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743246132 | 
  • May 2003
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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

9th Infantry Division Headquarters, Dong Tam, Vietnam

15 January 1969

"It's a pussy battalion, Colonel. I want tigers, not pussies."

I had to hand it to Major General Julian Ewell. Twenty-five years after his kick-ass command in Bastogne, the old paratrooper was still firing for effect. He had sent stateside for me to fix one of his busted units -- 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry of the 9th Division -- right then out in Indian country getting its clock cleaned.

"The 4/39th is the worst goddamn battalion I've ever seen in the Army, Hackworth. It couldn't fight its way out of a retirement... see more

About the Author

David H. Hackworth
Photo Credit: Kathleen DiGiovanna

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