Freedom Fighters: Bill Hardwick - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Freedom Fighters: Bill Hardwick

(Source: Bill Hardwick) (Source: Bill Hardwick)
(Source: Bill Hardwick) (Source: Bill Hardwick)
(Source: Bill Hardwick) (Source: Bill Hardwick)
(Source: KLTV News staff) (Source: KLTV News staff)
(Source: Bill Hardwick) (Source: Bill Hardwick)
(KLTV) -

Bill Hardwick joined the Army to fight, and fight he did, in two wars and a motion picture.

Hardwick joined the Army two days after high school graduation. He was only 17, but eager to fight for his country.

"My dad was highly decorated in the first World War. I just liked following in his footsteps," Hardwick said.

Hardwick was to get his chance, he was sent to the front lines in Korea as soon as he completed training.

A full scale battle was going on when Hardwick arrived, and he admits he was scared to death.

Hardwick eventually got back to his unit, just in time for even heavier fighting.

"About the 3rd or 4th night, we was on line. They hit us with everything they had. I'd never seen so many North Koreans in my life," Hardwick said.

He had never fired a machine gun before, but it wasn't to be his last time, although he says pistols were more effective in close combat.

Hardwick was awarded the Army commendation medal for fighting off the enemy when his partner's gun malfunctioned.

In 1954, Hardwick and his company got the dream assignment of being in a movie. "To Hell and Back" not only starred Audie Murphy, it was about his story as the most decorated soldier of World War Two. Hardwick played the part of a German soldier in the film.

Hardwick left the Army in 1955  but stayed in the reserves for three years. He re-enlisted, and in 1967, volunteered to go to Vietnam. It was on what was supposed to be a simple escort mission that Hardwick earned his bronze star.

Although Hardwick wasn't wounded, he lost much of his hearing in the battle and was assigned to military police, usually considered one of the safer jobs in the military, but not always so in Vietnam.

 "We went down to check on something, and all of a sudden, we were informed that two Vietcong were trying to take food from the people. So, we tracked them down and cornered them and shot one and captured the other," Hardwick said.

After 20+ years in the service, Bill Hardwick retired. From 1988 to 1996, he was police chief in Big Sandy, once again using his army training to serve the public.

"I feel great. I did what I had to do for my country," Hardwick said.

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