Hail to the Chief

By Shirley K. Startzman

     They say when he jogged to the mound, the batters got really light-footed and edgy in the box. It’s a good thing, because the six-foot, three-inch soldier with hands the size of a bear’s paw wasn’t above "dusting" a batter who was crowding the plate. And if the batter needed more than "dusting," this southpaw wasn’t above plastering a souvenir mark on a would-be hitter’s thighs. He may have been an Army officer, but on the fastpitch softball field, his team members chanted, "Hol-lie, Hol-lie."

     In June, Malcolm L. Hollingsworth, chief of staff for the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, will hang up his cleats for good. It will be the second time he’s unlaced them: the first time, he just hung them over his shoulder and retired as Col. Hollingsworth, chief of staff for the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command.

     He never could throw a decent riseball, but he could fire a fastball with pinpoint accuracy and had an inside chaser which struck fear in the hearts of those holding Louisville Sluggers. "Hol-lie" wasn’t fancy and he wasn’t a hot dog; he was simply the one the coach trusted when the game was on the line. The tougher the competition, the more the lanky southpaw wanted the ball.

     The Army intelligence team counted on his brains. When its game was on the line in Vietnam, the team simply trusted the officer who always delivered; the southpaw served three tours. When asked about the triple duty, he said simply, "Been there and done that. No story there." Sneak a peak inside his duffle bag and you will see, wrapped in its original container, a Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze stars. Yea, right...no story there.

     On the All-Army team in Okinama, "Hol-lie" carried the big stick to the batter’s box and settled in to play first base. He could hit, and having a boarding house reach sure didn’t hurt when he was trying to help his team get an out. He played the position which helped the team the best.

     Col. Hollingsworth served in the position the Army Intelligence Corps assigned. He was G2 of the XVIII Airborne Corps (yes, he has a Parachutist Badge), G2 of the 1st Cavalry Division and special assistant to the J2, U.S. Forces Korea/EUSA. Somewhere along those lines, he earned a Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster.

     "Hol-lie’s" dad was an Army officer who served in MacArthur’s unit in Japan and was recalled when the Korean War began. His dad was an engineer with the 13th Air Force in Vietnam long before his son reported for duty near the same area. "Dad" settled his family in Texas when he retired; his son was a second generation graduate of Texas A&M University.

     The key to any good military career is a life partner who can deal with moving every three years and raise three children who turn out to be contributing members of society. The young Malcolm L. Hollingsworth married the prettiest girl in Lubbock, Texas. To this day, he and Jan are still the Texas twosome, parents of Lori, Thomas and Eric.

     The thing about great pitchers is that infielders get to thinking they own them. When the pitcher retires, the second baseman gets mad and the shortstop tries to keep a stiff upper lip. The third baseman retires just before the pitcher because he depended on the pitcher for strength and direction. The first baseman tries to act as if it doesn’t matter. The catcher makes the new pitcher bring her own ball so the team can a start a new season...and because the catcher is keeping the last game ball of a great pitcher’s career. The coach tells the team they’ll be all right and deep down, they all know it because they’ve had other pitchers.

     The day Malcolm L. Hollingsworth leaves the blue and gold INSCOM field, he’ll tell his team members the coach is right; the team must keep playing. He’ll tell them he’s going to come to some of their games and cheer them on. The team will know things will be all right...they just won’t be all right on the day this silent warrior takes himself out of the lineup. And all day, the remote outfield will be chanting one last time: "Hol-lie. Hol-lie."

     Shirley K. Startzman is the command information officer, public affairs office, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Va.


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   Last Updated: May 29, 1997