The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Posts tagged “Franklin County

Full Metal Jacket…

was a powerful movie. Did you ever wonder what inspired such a gut wrenching portrayal of the military experience? Hassell G Hasford 1922-1971 and Hazel G Hasford 1929-1993 gave birth to the person who was inspired to write the novel Their son Jerry Gustave, called Gus, Hasford was born 28 November 1947 in Russellville, Franklin County, Alabama and died 29 January 1993 on Aegina Island, Regional unit of Islands in Attica, Greece in an impoverished state. His life was cut short from the complications of diabetes.

Gus Hasford during the Vietnam conflict

Gus Hasford during the Vietnam conflict

Always, it seemed, a person of unorthodox ways, he failed to finish high school graduation because he refused to take his final exams. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1967. He served as a combat correspondent in Vietnam.

He used his emotions, and likely the experiences during the war that was never declared a war and put pen to paper. The result of using his wartime experiences came his first novel, “The Short-Timers”, published in 1979.

It is generally assumed that the novel’s central character, the wise-cracking ‘Private Joker’, is semi-autobiographical. The novel was greeted with positive reviews and the motion picture rights were acquired by director Stanley Kubrick.

Hasford collaborated with Kubrick and author Michael Herr on the screenplay to what would become the motion picture “Full Metal Jacket”, with actor Matthew Modine portraying the Private Joker role.

Personality conflicts between Hasford, Kubrick and Herr complicated the process, or more accurately it was a conflict on how much credit Gus would get for all his hard work. All three were nominated for an Academy Award in 1987.

He was arrested  in 1988 in San Luis Obispo, California and charged with having stolen some 748 library books. He being the voracious reader and bibliophile, he got himself in to trouble with the law – over books. Sentenced to six months in jail, he was released after three months and promised to pay damages with the royalties from his next book.

The novel, a sequel to “The Short-Timers”, was called “The Phantom Blooper” and was supposed to be part of a trilogy. The trilogy would remain incomplete when, he died at the age of 45 on the Greek island of Aegina in 1993.

Here is a link to a trailer. Some people got really upset thinking this trailer spoiled the movie for them. But, it happened during the first few minutes of the movie, so it actually did not spoil anything. timers2

He wrote a poem that does not seem to provide a glowing review of that conflict that still haunts America, its citizenry and its veterans. Here is the poem:

BEDTIME STORY

 By Gustav HasfordSleep, America.
Silence is a warm bed.
Sleep your nightmares of small
cries cut open now
in the secret places of
Black Land, Bamboo City.Sleep tight, America
dogtags eating sweatgrimaced
TV-people
Five O’clock news: My son the Meat.Laughing scars, huh?
Novocained fist.
Squeeze every window empty
then hum.

Fear only the natural unreality
and kiss nostalgia goodbye.
Bayonet teddy bear and snore.
Bad dreams are something you ate.
So sleep, you mother.

From Winning Hearts and Minds, a collection of poetry by Vietnam vets, published in 1972.

“I joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War while I was still in Vietnam. About February, ’68. Also, I had a poem in Winning Hearts and Minds, published by the First Casualty Press, which was the first anthology of writing about the war by the veterans themselves.”
–Gus Hasford, LA Times Magazine, June 28, 1987

For more extensive information about this remarkable man from the Shoals area, there is a blog dedicated to him. http://gustavhasford.blogspot.com/


History: First Hand photo page 12…

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Photos of the Vietnam War courtesy of Bill Presley


History: First Hand photo page 11…

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Handsome, even if in a hot sweaty steaming jungle.


History: First Hand photo page 10…

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Harold Hovater pays tribute to his friend Ray Ashnault. I love that poem.


History: First Hand photo page 9…

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The photo of Harold was an attempt to document the scars on his head from wounds received while serving in Vietnam; that injury was the impetus for one of his two Purple Hearts.

Harold Hovater, Vicky Laster Hovater, and some of Harold's awards


History: First Hand photo page 8…

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History: First Hand page 16

In photo: weapons, gravemarker photo of Dennis Lavern English, and cemetery where Ray Ashnault is buried Saint Gertrude’s Roman Catholic Church located in Colonia, Middlesex County, New Jersey.


History: First Hand photo page 7…

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Howard Brown Handley Remembrances page 2


History: First Hand photo page 6…

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Howard Brown Handley Remembrances

Howard Brown Handley Remembrances, page 1


History: First Hand photo page 5…

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Howard Brown Handley KIA in Republic of Vietnam: South Vietnam


History: First Hand photo page 4…

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Robert Henry King in the Class of 1962 SHS

Page 21 of the Class of 1962 in the Sheffield High School yearbook Demitasse


History: First Hand photo page 3…

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KIA in Republic of Vietnam: South Vietnam

 

Sheffield native killed in Vietnam to be honored

By Christopher Pelton
5 July 2008
http://www.TimesDaily.com

A former chief warrant officer from Sheffield who was killed during battle in the Vietnam War is being inducted into the Alabama Military Hall of Honor.

David Rolland Jackson, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot, was killed during a mission in 1969, about two weeks before he was to end his tour of duty in Vietnam. Before he was killed by enemy gunfire while piloting a helicopter, U.S. Army officials say Jackson’s actions resulted in the lives of numerous American soldiers being spared.

“Through his timely and courageous actions, he was responsible for saving the lives of several of his comrades and instrumental in the defeat of the enemy force,” U.S. Army officials wrote in one of the numerous citations recognizing his military achievements.

Jackson, who would have been 65 had he lived, will be inducted in the hall of honor Oct. 31 during a ceremony at Marion Military Institute. Only 38 other Alabamians have been inducted into the hall.

His widow, Mary Jackson, of Sheffield, said she sent an application of the hall of honor committee in 2007, but her late husband was not among those who were chosen.

“I’m thrilled,” Mary Jackson said. “I felt he deserved it because he lost his life doing a brave thing. It’s a great honor, but unfortunately, it doesn’t bring him back.”

Jackson received numerous medals posthumously, namely the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

He was born in Sheffield on Nov. 13, 1942, and attended Sheffield High School. He left school early to join the U.S. Navy and returned home three years later to work at the Sheffield Fire Department. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on Oct. 24, 1967.

Nearly two years later, on Sept, 22, 1969, Jackson volunteered when American troops involved in a fierce battle in South Vietnam sent out an emergency call for a resupply of ammunition.

The helicopter Jackson was flying began taking on gunfire from automatic weapons as it approached the drop site.

Unable to land, Jackson continued hovering over the drop area until the ammunition was unloaded. He returned later in the day to complete the mission and bring out several severely wounded soldiers despite taking on heavy gunfire from enemy soldiers.

Jackson, a member of the 71st Assault Helicopter Co., was not as fortunate three days later.

With his bags already packed and ready for a transfer to Germany, Jackson again volunteered for a dangerous air assault mission near the village of Chi Tu. A bullet fragment that penetrated the helicopter struck Jackson, and he died before receiving medical attention.

“Based on the citations, David was a real good pilot,” Mary Jackson said. “He was doing his duty and trying to help those who were in danger.”

The Jacksons had two children during their marriage, both of whom no longer live in the Shoals.

Sheffield historian Richard Sheridan helped Jackson file the application to have her late husband considered for the honor.

“I didn’t know him personally, but his record is worth the recognition,” Sheridan said.

Jackson’s co-pilot for those two September 1969 missions is now a chaplain at the Pentagon.

He wrote a story detailing the missions after Jackson’s daughter wrote emails seeking to hear from people who knew her father.

“It gave me a lot of closure although it was very graphic,” Jackson said.


History: First Hand photos page 2

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My heroes!


History: First hand photos page 2…

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My heroes!

 

 

 

Average and infamous…

ordinary and extraordinary, might describe members of the large Elias James family. Pictured below are Elias James and Cynthia McGary Richardson James and their large family. Elias James fought as part of the valiant 16th Regiment of Alabama Infantry, CSA in the War of Northern Aggression. He was a relative of the infamous James brothers, Frank and Jessie. The outlaw Jessie James was rumored to be hiding out at Elias James’ place at one time.

Elias James married Cynthia McGary Richardson, (b. 4 Mar 1847, d. 18 May 1915). They settled at Pogo, just West of Pleasant Site, where they resided in a log cabin that had a “beautiful cold water spring” and a “milk house where milk was kept cool in the running water”. This is at the base of the Freedom Hills, overlooking the beautiful valley.

The buildings are now gone but the James cemetery is still there, hidden in the woods above where the cabin once stood. The cabin is the backdrop for the family photograph below

Cynthia was the daughter of John Richardson (b. 14 Jan 1796 GA, d. 12 Jan 1876) and Nancy Hester, (b. Oct 11 1808, d. Jan 26 1853). At least two of Cynthia’s brothers served in the Confederate Army and fought at the Battle of Shiloh. Cynthia’s maternal grandparents were William H. “Buck” Hester and Amy Malone. Amy was the daughter of John Malone and Anne Blackwell of Granville County, North Carolina. “Buck” and Amy Hester came to Franklin County in 1818.

Tell us what you know about them.

Elias James Family



Back Row left to right: Daniel James holding rifle, Joe Gardner James, Nancy Catherine “Kate” James Grissom, Neoma Samantha “Dobe” James George, Marthie Melisey “Mattie” James Culligan, “Lula” James Thomas, Jennie Burton James (Enoch James’s daughter), Lula James (nee Grissom).

Front Row left to right: Modena Alice “Dena” James, Elias holding unidentified grandson, Cynthia Richardson, Cynthia (behind), Nannie, Amos James holding Elmer, Letha James (back), Mollie James (front), Elias “Shug” James, Thomas Enoch “Tom” James holding Floy James, Edna James, John James holding Myrtle James, Lillie James and Bertha James. People in the photograph were identified by Joe Clark James (1896-1985), son of “Ab” Alfred Clark James; son of Elias and Cynthia but not pictured in the photo.