Gustav Hasford

Gustave Hasford (1947 –1993), was an American novelist, journalist poet, and Marine combat veteran. His semi-autobiographical novel The Short-Timers (1979) was the basis of the Oscar nominated Stanely Kubrick film Full Metal Jacket (1987).

Via a Freedom of Information Act request, Medic has obtained a summary of  Hasford’s military service. Given that Hasford is a deceased veteran of exceptional prominence, a more complete OMPF was expected.

Gustav Hasford enlisted in the Marines in 1966. Following boot camp, Hasford’s wide reading and talent for writing earned him a spot as a military journalist. While stationed stateside, he wrote countless upbeat articles for Leatherneck about Marines in Vietnam.

After several months he requested overseas duty, and was assigned to the 1st Marine Division, International Services Office (ISO), in Da Nang. An office gopher and chauffeur, eventually, and as required, Hasford wrote upbeat stories for Leatherneck, Sea Tiger, and Pacific Stars and Stripes.

Reassigned to Phu Bai, and away from the control of ISO, Hasford spent time in the field with ordinary grunts. These encounters were central to his future writing career.

Discharged in 1968, Hasford held a series of menial jobs, all the while honing The Short Timers. Eventually, he battled director Stanely Kubrick for screen credits, and by Hasford’s account, he successfully pressured the cinema legend to achieve his ends.

With literary recognition came decline. In 1989 Hasford spent six months in prison for stealing hundreds of library books. The incarceration physically and emotionally drained him. Gradually, from drink and poor diet, his health deteriorated. Gustav Hasford died in Greece in 1993. The cause of death was untreated diabetes. He was 45 years old. His other books include The Phantom Blooper, and A Gypsy Good Time.


Hard copy editions of The Short Timers are out of print and costly to buy. A digital copy of is available free at the Internet Archive.  An account is required.


Obituary (Baltimore Sun)

The Killing of Gus Hasford (an excellent essay written by his friend Grover Lewis)

An informative Masters thesis on Hasford

The Short Timer’s (the complete novel in pdf)

Wikipedia entry