Our Hitch in Hell

"Our Hitch in Hell" is a ballad by American poet Frank Bernard Camp, originally published as one of 49[1] ballads in a 1917 collection entitled American Soldier Ballads, that went on to inspire multiple variants among American law enforcement and military, either as The Final Inspection, the Soldier's Prayer (or Poem), the Policeman's Prayer (or Poem), and variations on those titles.

The final lines of the poem[2][3] speak of the protagonist being automatically accepted into Heaven due to having already served time in Hell, Hell being their military service:

It's then we'll hear St. Peter
tell us loudly with a yell,
"Take a front seat you soldier men,
you've done your hitch in Hell."

In his 1949 work The Struggle for Guadalcanal,[4] military historian Samuel Eliot Morison transcribed a Marine variant of the poem (possibly authored by James A. Donohue[5]) from the epitaph on the Lunga Point Cemetery grave of Private First Class Bill Anderson, who had died in that battle:

And when he goes to Heaven,
To St. Peter he will tell:
Another marine reporting, Sir;
I've served my time in hell.

In popular cultureEdit

The text of the Anderson epitaph, with "one more soldier" replacing "another marine", appears prior to starting the opening level of the Medal of Honor: Frontline video game.

The ballad has been frequently reproduced without authorship, or under someone else's name, and has inspired adaptations of the poem (such as the "Policeman's Prayer" and "The Final Inspection"[Notes 1]) by and for members of armed forces and law-enforcement agencies—even by high-risk professions such as miners.[10]


  1. ^ Both Joshua Heltebran[6] and Peter Hornbach[7] claim authorship of "The Final Inspection", and each has separately registered for copyright of the text, Heltebran in 2000[8] claiming 1996 authorship, and Hornbach in 2005[9] claiming 2002 authorship.


  1. ^ "The Lost Generation: World War I Poetry: Frank Bernard Camp". Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  2. ^ Camp, F.B. (1917). American Soldier Ballads. G. Rice & sons. p. 20. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  3. ^ Shapiro, F.R. (2006). The Yale Book of Quotations. Yale University Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-300-10798-2. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  4. ^ Morison, S.E. (2001). The Struggle for Guadalcanal, August 1942-February 1943. History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. University of Illinois Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-252-06996-3. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  5. ^ "Guadalcanal Journal - The Journal". October 31, 2013. Archived from the original on October 31, 2013. Retrieved 2017-07-23. We made a plaque for Bill today.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. ^ "Final Inspection Part II by Sgt. Joshua Helterbran". 14 December 2005. Archived from the original on 14 December 2005. Retrieved 2017-07-23.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  7. ^ Hornbach, Susan (19 May 2012). "Sunday, May 19, 2012". The Write Voice Continues to Speak. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  8. ^ "WebVoyage Record View 1". cocatalog.loc.gov. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  9. ^ "WebVoyage". cocatalog.loc.gov. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  10. ^ Dobson, R.D. (2004). Salisbury Mine. Dobson Publications. ISBN 978-0-9747708-2-6. Retrieved 2017-07-23.

External linksEdit