Skip to main content

In Praise Of Colonel Sobel

May 2024
1min read

I was enjoying reading Geoffrey Ward’s article about Stephen A. Ambrose’s book on the 101st Airborne (“The Life and Times,”” July/August) until I came to the parts about my brother, Lt. Herbert M. Sobel.

The words used to describe Herb, his actions, and the opinions of the men in “Easy Company” were certainly shocking to me. Comparing him to Wouk’s Captain Queeg as “friendless, suspicious, envious … cruel” and a slave-driving taskmaster is a description incomprehensible to me.

Herb was always a wonderful brother to my sister and me and a devoted son to our mother. He was attentive, caring, and always considerate. His sense of humor was acknowledged by all who knew him. These attributes were his before, during, and after the war.

Could being in the war change one’s whole personality as described by Ambrose, or might the men of “Easy Company” not have recognized a good commander who taught them the tough things they had to know for survival and success?

Ambrose admits the training paid off—and for his information, Lieutenant Sobel was Lieutenant Colonel Sobel when the war ended. He married a former Army nurse and had three sons, one of whom is in the Navy.

I just want your readers to know that the pendulum swings wide and that while the men of E Company saw Herb as an ogre, to his family and those who loved him he was indeed a hero.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this magazine of trusted historical writing, now in its 75th year, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.

Donate