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Peter L. Hilgartner

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Colonel Peter L. Hilgartner, USMC (ret.) “was born in Austin, Texas. His father, an eye doctor, owned a ranch near Yorktown, Texas. As a youth, young Hilgartner had the opportunity to experience life on this ranch. Additionally, he spent six months on the southwest Texas ranch owned by Herman and Becky Sparks. The story Buckshot and The Boy is a blend of those experiences, as well as the experiences of his brothers and close friends. As a Marine, he is veteran of both Korean and Vietnam Wars. In Vietnam, he commanded the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment earning the nickname from his men of Highpockets, due to his unusual height of 6’ 6”.


He is co-author of Highpocket’s War Stories and Other Tall Tales, a book which received the 2005 Marine Corps Gazette’s Frances Fox Parry Award for the best combat initiative story written in the past two years. A 1951 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Colonel Hilgartner holds an advanced degree in business management from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is an avid outdoorsman and hunter. He is a certified volunteer Senior Hunter Education Instructor with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries outreach courses. Hilgartner and his wife, Sara, and their four dogs reside in Great Falls, Virginia, on the outskirts of Washington, DC, where they enjoy daily adventures exploring God’s creation.


Colonel Peter L. Hilgartner is the author of Highpocket’s War Stories and Other Tall Tales and Buckshot and the Boy.


According to the book description of Buckshot and the Boy, “June was passing quickly. Buckshot concentrated on fence repairs and improvements to the corrals. Tex was with him constantly, holding the other end when needed. Slowly, the scope of his chores increased, including the responsibility of grooming the horses and cleaning the stalls. Buckshot became the consummate teacher, but he also understood the importance of having some recreation at the end of the day. He made certain to include some time for fun or other pleasantry such as storytelling. As a result, he found Tex a willing and cooperative worker and student. One day Buckshot asked, "Tex, how would you like to go shooting with me this afternoon?" The boy's eyes widened, "You bet I would!" "Well, I have an old single shot 20 gauge shotgun I think you can handle and we'll set some bottles up on yonder fence for you to shoot. We can start after we finish fixing this chute and loading ramp for the cattle. This will make it quick and easy to load the cows into the trucks. The boy smiled. He had taken off his shirt and Buckshot observed that his back was completely healed. He also noticed some new muscle developing in the lad's slight frame. I do believe he's put on a couple of pounds, he thought. Target practice that afternoon was a big success. Buckshot used the opportunity to teach and explain that knowing how to handle the gun safely was as important as good marksmanship. Tex took to the instruction like a duck to the water. After supper the trio moved into the sitting room for the evening Bible reading. When they finished Tex said, "Thanks, Buckshot, for the shooting lesson today. That was sure fun!" He was quiet for a moment then asked, "Buckshot, have you ever had any bad guys come onto the property, and do rustling or things like that?" "Well son, as a matter of fact we have." Buckshot leaned back in his chair, a signature move indicating he was about to tell a story.”

Highpocket's War Stories
Peter Hilgartner & Sam Ginder  More Info

Buckshot and the Boy
Peter "Highpockets" Hilgartner  More Info

According to the book description of Highpocket’s War Stories and Other Tall Tales, “Highpockets War Stories is an eloquent account of combat leadership in Korea and Vietnam. Colonel Peter L. Hilgartner is widely recognized in the Marine Corps as a successful combat leader, first as a junior officer in Korea and later commanding the First Battalion, Fifth Marines fighting the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. Hilgartner tells of leading troops in counter-guerilla action, and major battles with North Vietnamese troops -- Union I, Union II and Swift -- to control the strategic Que Son Valley. His story gives never-before-told, vivid descriptions of Marines in hand-to-hand combat with North Vietnamese troops from the perspective of Marines who were there. Every grunt will appreciate this gripping account”


One reader of Highpocket’s War Stories and Other Tall Tales said, “This is an outstanding read. Anyone interested in the Naval Academy, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the Marine Corps and in Hunting should find this book a great attraction. It is told with humor and sensitivity. One of the best books I've read in a long time.”


Another reader of Highpocket’s War Stories and Other Tall Tales said, “A thoroughly enjoyable read. Witty and engaging, but at the same time, thought provoking and full of wisdom. Leadership is an art. Like any other form of art it requires energy, enthusiasm and creativity. A select few are masters of this art form, blessed with the intuition and insight which mark the truly great leader. Colonel Hilgartner is such a leader. The anecdotes which pepper his narrative provide valuable lessons for those who would lead others, whether in battle or in business. The short vignettes which make up this book make it an ideal read for subway commuters and others who are often interrupted. Its easy-going humor and thoughtful insights make it a book which I will go back to over and over again.”


Another reader of Highpocket’s War Stories and Other Tall Tales said, “This book is an easy read about achievement of goals and successful leadership of Marines. It focuses on three important battles in Vietnam fought in the spring/summer of 1967 by a Marine officer who also served in Korea. His competency and bravery as a soldier are inspirational to me as I also served in Vietnam. There are great anecdotes about him and his men and the combat stories are gripping. I don't usually like books about Vietnam but this one was an enjoyable read.”

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