Monday, June 15, 2020

Legends of the Old Corps: Gustav Hasford and the “Snuffies”

Dennis Fisher: one of the "Snuffies"

"I hope you (and Foxy) are getting settled in nicely with family on the coast this week….the rain is here for several days and the green wall of grass, weeds, etc. is ahead of us in the race to see who wins. While staying indoors for the weather I ran across a website I had not been to in a while linked back through a GWOT veteran’s website and found this photo Above) from Vietnam that got my attention:

The link is from a story from Breach, Bang Clear that I read with great interest 1. because Vietnam, 2. because M3 grease gun & C-rats, 3. because.Marine combat photographer, 4. because ‘Snuffies’, among other things that all fed into a history I did know know of and yet reminds me of my late friend Jim Davis, the US Army photographer you helped me find Vietnam info on….the history of the ‘snuffies’ sounds very much like what might have happened to me if I had been a bit older and probably rated 4F due to my eyesight - but we will never know for sure. I got my photographic bug honestly, from my mother, who took pictures in the 30s later in WW@ old 8mm movies. Didn’t get into it for real until 1974 when in college, but the equipment is identical to what I used, the underwater Nikon camera (under the Marine’s left elbow), the Nikon F and aluminum screw top cans for film, most likely Tri-X….no GM Guidelamp M3 grease gun, however….shoot….

There is much, much more as well, I learned about the book that inspired one of the most well-known Vietnam movies on a par with Apocalypse Now and gave me a backstory of men I didn’t realize it touched….

So here is the link and perhaps it will fill in some history of the Marines there in Vietnam when you were there:

Or maybe not….just thought you might like to read this….best, harry lynch 6/15/20"


The Short Timers, a novel by Gustav Hasford, was the foundation for Stanley Kubrick’s war film Full Metal Jacket, but it was a close-knit group of Marines called the “Snuffies” that inspired all the characters. Earl Gerheim became Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (made famous by R. Lee Ermey) and Private Joker was based (at least in large part) on Hasford himself. There were others in the book (and the subsequent Full Metal Jacket cast) inspired by “Old Corps” Marines too, all men who served with Hasford at Phu Bai, the Battle of Hue, and other places in Vietnam — including well-known Hollywood technical advisor turned actor Dale Dye.

There’s a story behind the story, as you’ll see in the Chris Hernandez story below.    DR


  1. Seems to have been a lot more going on in Vietnam, but it was a
    secret. History dribbles out, here and there:

    1. Thanks, I was there all those years+ and don't believe fragging alone ended the war. Nixon knew he had to end it on the best terms available because of the Democrats which was why he signed off in 1973 against Thieu's vehement objections. I do believe if Nixon hadn't been impeached, he would have brought back the B-52's but even if he had done so, VNCH was doomed because of lack of funding. Even North Vietnam stated that Thieu was forced to fight a poor man's war. :(