Carrying A Heavy Rucksack: Fighting For Hamburger Hill

Gerald Robert “Bob” Harkins


COL(R) Bob Harkins graduated from The Ohio State University in 1965 and attended the Infantry Basic Course, Airborne School, and Ranger School before transferring from Korea to Vietnam. Upon arriving in Vietnam, he was assigned to the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Davison and became a Platoon Leader in 1-327 IN. Following his first tour in Vietnam, he was assigned to the Ranger Department at Fort Benning, and was then stationed at Fort Bragg. In April, 1968 following the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, he was deployed to Washington D.C. as part of a peacekeeping force. He then volunteered to return to Vietnam to command a company in combat, and fought at Hamburger Hill in May, 1969 while commanding A/3-187 IN. Returning from Vietnam, he completed the Infantry Officers Advanced Course, and earned a Master’s Degree at Auburn. From 1975-1978, he served as Tactical Officer of Company C3 at West Point, helping to facilitate the introduction of women into the Academy and dealing with the cheating scandal that shook the Class of 1977. He was stationed at NATO headquarters in Ismir, Turkey for two years before taking command of 3rd BN, 32nd Infantry. After that assignment, he attended the War College before returning to Fort Benning in 1986 to lead the Light Infantry Task Force. During Desert Shield and Desert Storm, COL Harkins commanded the Dragon Brigade, the XVIII Airborne Corps Headquarters Command. In this interview, he describes his two deployments to Vietnam, including the Battle of Hamburger Hill, and his deployment for the Gulf War. He also provides insights into the changing nature of the Infantry over the course of his career. Finally, he talks about his experiences as a Tactical Officer at the United States Military Academy.


conflicts Vietnam War Persian Gulf War
topics Spring 1976 Cheating Incident Courage Military Techniques Drug Abuse Wartime Decisions West Point History
interviewer David Siry
date 16 September 2016


name Gerald Robert “Bob” Harkins
institution The Ohio State University
graduation year 1965
service Infantry
unit 1-327 IN, A CO 3-187 IN, 3rd BN 32nd IN, Dragon Brigade
service dates 1965 1993