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Herbert Sobel was an officer in World War II who was part of the Easy Company, 2nd Battalion 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division. Before his death, he was a lieutenant colonel who was well decorated with several medals including the World War II Victory Medal, among others.

Sobel’s time in the military was recreated through a miniseries titled Band of Brothers. However, one of his sons, Michael Sobel, has come out to ridicule the series, saying its expression of his father’s actions and service to the country wasn’t entirely true.

Herbert Sobel Biography

Herbert Sobel was born on the 22nd of January 1912. He was born into the Jewish family of Max H. Sobel and Dora Friedman. The occupations of his parents are not known and Herbert had two siblings, sisters, named Julian and Ruth and also a brother called Maxine. He was born in Illinois and he grew up there as well. As a young lad, one of his favorite past times was swimming – he loved to swim. He attended the Culver Military Academy for his high school education and went on to acquire a degree in architecture at the University of Illinois.

He worked briefly as a salesman at a clothing enterprise before enlisting for the army on March 7th, 1941. In the Army, he volunteered to join the paratroopers when WWII began. He was admitted as a second lieutenant and soon moved to the rank of first lieutenant, then captain. His rise in rank was due to his ability to intensely train young soldiers under Easy Company where he oversaw and trained other soldiers in basic combat skills. These trainings were carried out at Camp Toccoa in Georgia.

Prior to his work at Georgia, he became a member of National Guard, Military Police and the 101st Airborne Division. After his work at Georgia, he traveled to the United Kingdom for further military training, before the Normandy invasion. At this time, he was reassigned to the Chilton Foliat jump school.

Herbert was involved in the Normandy invasion combat as a member of the Regimental Headquarters Company. However, before he left the army after the war, he was reassigned as regimental S-4 (logistics) officer on March 8, 1945.

When the war ended, Herbert Sobel moved back to America in 1946, after being honorably discharged and went into the corporate sector as an accountant. But military service wasn’t done with him yet, he was further enlisted, but this time at the Korean War. He eventually retired in 1953 after attaining the rank of a lieutenant colonel and working at the Army National Guard.

Herbert Sabel
L-R Dick Winters and Herbert Sobel image source

Life After Retirement

He got married to Reeva Sobel after he retired and had three sons – Herbert Jr., Michael, and Rick Sobel. He also had a daughter who died in her infancy – a few days after she was born. Sobel got a job at A.C. McClurg & Co. in Chicago as a credit manager and later at Mathias Klein Company. He was a very dedicated worker who was always punctual, well dressed and never missed a day of work. While he was married, he lived a life of luxury and owned a cylinder Metropolitan car – a luxury vehicle in his days.

However, in the 1960s, his life took a turn for the worse when his wife divorced him and his family moved away from him. He grew lonely and sought to take his life. He attempted suicide by shooting himself on the head, however, this attempt was unsuccessful as it was only able to make him blind as the bullet, which passed behind his eyes and through the other side of his head, damaged his optic nerves.

Sadly, Herbert spent his last 17 years at an institution that cared for American veteran soldiers at Waukegan, Illinois. He died on September 30, 1987, from malnutrition due to the poor state of affairs of the facility. No services were held for him and none of his family members attended his funeral. His life in the military was later on recreated by HBO in the TV series titled Band of Brothers. His character was played by American actor, David Schwimmer.

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5 Facts To Know About Herbert Sobel

1. Herbert Sobel was despised and hated by the young soldiers who worked with and was trained by him. The soldiers under him complained that he was petty, vindictive and an inflexible tyrant

2. As military personnel, he had a lot of shortcomings that led to the death of a couple of soldiers. He had a penchant for making wrong military decisions and wouldn’t listen to the counsel of others. He was also terrible at reading maps, however, he was a strategist that helped to put his troops in shape.

3. His wife, Reeva, was a nurse who worked at Hines VA Hospital in Chicago. She was also an American and was born in 1921. Reports had it that he loved Reeva and paid a lot of attention to her. With Reeva, Herbert had three sons – Michael, Herbert Jr., and Rick.

4. Although he liked to live in luxury, he never spent extravagantly at the expense of his children’s education. He was said to have saved a lot for his children’s education.

5. Herbert Sobel earned the Combat Infantryman Badge. He was also awarded a Bronze Star Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign, Parachutist Badge, and the World War II Victory Medal.

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