William H. Haakinson III (1970/04/18)

With cheeks the size of basketballs, "Chowbag" ran down the court.

William Herbert Haakinson III was born on January 24, 1945, to Dr. William and Eloise Haakinson in San Jose, California. A sister, Julie, joined him in the family. Herb, as he came to be called, was raised and educated in San Jose elementary schools and Bellarmine college preparatory school. In 1961, prior to beginning his senior year, he moved to Aptos and enrolled in Watsonville High School. In high school Herb was remembered as an average student, excellent basketball player and very popular. He was also remembered for his sense of humor. Friends recall his habit of blowing up his cheeks with air until they were of a huge size. In an issue of Life Magazine, a photographer captured him running down the basketball court during a high school game with his cheeks blown up to almost basketball size.

Following his graduation, Haakinson entered Cabrillo College and later attended San Francisco State College, where he graduated in 1969 with a degree in psychology. During this period of his life, Herb may have married. He fathered a daughter Kelly, who lived with her mother in Sunnyvale, California.

In the summer of 1969, Haakinson was drafted into the US Army. He completed his basic training at Fort Ord, California, followed by paratrooper training at Ft. Benning, Georgia. On November 11, 1969, he arrived in Thua Thien province, Vietnam, and was assigned as a rifleman with Company A, 1st Battalion, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. While serving in that unit, he was remembered by his company commander as Chowbag Haakinson because of the amount of food he carried with him and as Hackerson by his gin rummy-playing buddies. He was later promoted to specialist fourth class and assigned as an automatic rifleman.

On April 18, 1970, while participating in a sweep patrol in the A Shau Valley area, Specialist Fourth Class William Herbert Haakinson III stepped on a land mine that took his life. His body was recovered and returned to San Jose for burial in the Oakhill Memorial cemetery. For his actions he was posthumously promoted to Sergeant and awarded The Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

(VVMW; WHSM; WRP April 20, 1970 1:7)

Creator: Nelson, Robert L.
Source: Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010.
Date: Undated
Type: OBIT
Coverage: 1970s
Rights: Reproduced by permission of Robert L. Nelson and The Museum of Art & History.
Identifier: RO-HAAKINSON


Nelson, Robert L. “William H. Haakinson III (1970/04/18).” Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010. SCPL Local History. https://history.santacruzpl.org/omeka/items/show/4919. Accessed 24 May 2024.