Mi Lieutenant
MI.Net Member
Apr 18, 2005
Everyone who watched HBO's 'Band of Brothers' series remembers Captain Herbert Sobel as a martinet and an inept field officer, who was hated by all in his company and eventually removed from command. The onscreen image was of a thoroughly unlikeable character. Yet Easy Company veterans acknowledge that he was the man who made them what they were and helped them to survive the war.
While browsing the net, I came across this, which I felt helped me to understand more about him:


Having read it, I found sympathy for a man who seemed to me to be sad, lonely and troubled. He was trying to do his duty as he saw it.
For all his obvious faults, I think he deserves some respect and a better memory, therefore I would like to consider him a Hero.

R.I.P., Captain Sobel. sal;
I found sympathy for a man who seemed to me to be sad, lonely and troubled. He was trying to do his duty as he saw it.

I'm with you on this Reloader, I think he made them the men they turned out to be, fighters!

It just so happens, we started to watch the series this morning.....
Sounds like a good training officer..the 'designated prick'. Not all training officers make good combat leaders. Had one like that in VN..he had a very famous name (no, not Georgie Patton). Was not in my chain of command, thank the Lord. Was involved in a combined operation with RF/PF forces. This individual was giving out positions en claire on the net. No attempt to use the coded map references or pos slang (red line, blue line). Was sending out uncoded map references & place names. DNA certainly didn't apply here in any positve manner.
What a fantastic Bibliography: It also sums up the old saying ‘The prove of the pudding is in the eating’. His men stayed alive and that was the main aim.
I have read a lot on Sobel and i think he deserves great respect and admiration. He was a driving force in easy compnay and was a great officer. I sympathize with the emotional stress he went through. Who ever got the idea to paint him as a scrooge for the TV sreies BoB needs a good blugering

The Wikipedia paints a much more flattering and enlightening article about this man, who appears to have had severe mental problems later in life.

After the invasion of Normandy, Sobel was again moved to a combat assignment, where he was wounded by enemy machine gun fire.


Shortly before Easy Company took part in Operation Market Garden, Sobel was assigned to the 506th once again, this time as the regimental S-4 (logistics officer).


...recalled to active duty during the Korean War. It is unknown if he was stationed in Korea or remained in the United States. He remained in the Illinois National Guard, eventually retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.


Sobel is known to have attempted suicide in the 1970s, and to have lived the rest of his days in a veterans' hospital, until he died in 1987.

Given what I just read though I think his superiors failed him, insofar as they never recognized his true calling, there is a saying "those who can do, and those who can't teach" I think this applied here.

His removal as a Combat Leader, saved lives, including his own IMO.

I have always wondered how he passed officer training without the ability to read a Map?? Or basic tactical skills?? Wartime I guess??

I remember well my wife commenting when we were watching BOB, how come he's such a jerk to his men, and I explained it was making his men tough so that would stand a better chance once they were in combat. Later in the series she understood what I meant.

In this role he certainly was a Hero, as everyman has something in him or something to offer that makes him so. Even if it’s just to his kid. I hope the WIKI account of what his son said of was true.

Food for thought, Bob
In Sobel's case, I think his personal problems started long before he entered the military.

Regardless, to have retired a Lt Colonel, shows that very possibly he was not the person as portrayed in BoB. I would be interested to learn more about his actual combat experiences, and his wounding in battle.

Sobel was not around to defend his depiction in BoB, and as always, those that are here, write the history. Quite possibly some of those that had the main emphasis placed upon them in the series, have problems themselves. Sobel might well have been a very capable officer, but others have written the history, and now it is all taken as 'fact'.

Could it be that people like Bill Guarnere & others are still 'grinding their axe' about their dislike of Sobel? I had an uncle who was in the 101st, and also went thru Toccoa in 1942, I sure wish he were around to ask & get his take on what he might have known about this.

Stephen Ambrose may be the person responsible for furthering any wrong perceptions of Sobel. His fauning style and hero-worship of some of these people, may have influenced his writings, but being a well respected historian and writer, people quite naturally assumed anything he wrote was the absolute truth. Maybe Ambrose is the real 'villian' of Sobel's story.
My thoughts

I am not in the military nor have I ever been a member.

Having admitted this, I want to weigh in on this issue. I have seen the kind of behavior exhibited by Soble in the corporate world on several occasions and I have been the target of it myself.

1. The idea that he did a great job of molding E Company into fighting men sounds like no one else could have done the same job. The army is full of leaders that could and did do an equally good job of training a team without the drama.

2. His petty bickering with his team sabotaged the mission and burned up valuable processor cycles that could have been spent advancing that same mission. Who knows how many lives would have been saved if leadership and teamwork had been the norm?

Based on what I've seen about Soble, it seems like Band of Brothers was fairly accurate.
Could it be that people like Bill Guarnere & others are still 'grinding their axe' about their dislike of Sobel? I had an uncle who was in the 101st, and also went thru Toccoa in 1942, I sure wish he were around to ask & get his take on what he might have known about this.

This is a comment that always arises, why did we not ask the people who were there about what happened and their thoughts about particular aspects of their experiences?.
Maybe we could answer some of the questions that arise as a result of the depictions of Hollywood and alike.

This website was created to discuss and perhaps answer questions like these. Imagine Capt if you had discussed these issues with you beloved uncle, the information you could have passed on.

Its easy to say and hindsight is always a wonderful thing.

I do like it though when we refuse to believe what we see in the movies, remember they are there to make money, the facts mean nothing to them.


Just found this article about the man.
herbert sobel.jpg

Yet other describe Sobel as a strategist. They say he became an integral part in shaping the company into the best it could be. Sobel’s role as a drill sergeant was not to win any popularity contests, but to harden young men into combat soldiers. Men lived because Sobel chiseled them into top warriors. - See more at:
Difficult to say. The opposition is too big. Winters included. And you´re all familiar with Occam´s razor, right? I know few people who are conservative, hard working, never give up, are loving fathers etc., but at work they behave like despots. I´d say that Sobel had a great son. He didn´t fail in that.