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

Posts tagged “Jerry Gustave Hasford

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/