A Soldier's Story: Sergeant Dashiell Hammett

Sergeant Dashiell Hammett was born on May 27, 1894,  he was raised in Baltimore and Philadelphia. He left school at the age of 13, working at odd jobs before joining the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.

Sergeant Dashiell Hammett worked as a Pinkerton detective from 1915 to 1922, leaving in 1918 to enlist in the U.S. Army Ambulance Corps for World War I. 

During his enlistment, Sergeant Dashiell Hammett contracted the Spanish Flu and then Tuberculosis, which would plague him for the rest of his life.

Unable to maintain his career as a detective, Sergeant Dashiell Hammett began publishing detective novels, including The Maltese Falcon.

In addition to his writing, he was also a left-wing activist and, in 1930, joined the Communist party.

Despite his political affiliations and Tuberculosis, he managed to re-enlist in the U.S. Army in 1942, after the attack on Pearl Harbor and in response to World War II. Sergeant Dashiell Hammett was assigned as editor of the Army newspaper The Adakian. He also co-authored, with Sergeant Robert Colodny, The Battle of the Aleutians under the supervision of Major Henry Hall. Unfortunately, it was during this time Sergeant Hammett developed emphysema.

After his service, Sergeant Dashiell Hammett returned to his political activism, becoming the Civil Rights Congress (CRC) president (a group considered a Communist organization and on the Attorney General's list of subversive organizations. This association caused him legal struggles, contempt of court charges, jail time, and blacklisting.

Sergeant Dashiell Hammett died from lung cancer at Lenox Hill Hospital on January 10, 1961. He is buried in Arlington cemetery.


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

In addition to the travel writings at www.takethebackroads.com, you can also read her book reviews at www.riteoffancy.com and US military biographies at www.everydaypatriot.com

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