|Captain Herbert Sobel|
|Rank||Captain (Retired as Lieutenant Colonel)|
|Status||Deceased as of 1987 of malnutrition|
|Nickname||The Black Swan|
Herbert Sobel was born on January 26, 1912 in Chicago, Illinois to a Jewish family. He went to military school at Culver Military Academy in Indiana, graduated from the University of Illinois in 1934, and afterwards became a clothing salesman.
World War IIEdit
In 1941, at the outbreak of WWII, Sobel joined the U.S. Army/Airborne, and received an officer's commission from the Coast Guard as a 2nd Lieutenant. After he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, he was sent to Camp Toccoa, Georgia in 1942 as part of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, an experimental unit which was part of the 101st Airborne. He was given command of Easy Company, part of the Regiment's 2nd Battalion. Sobel, was a strict disciplinarian who trained the men at such an extreme rate to push their limits.
Sobel was known to be a harsh drill instructor, constantly berating his recruits, punishing them for minor infractions, and frequently cancelling their weekend passes. After calling the men to attention, he began one of his exacting inspections. He ridicules Private Donald Malarkey for having a last name which is slang for bullshit. The bayonet of Joe Leibgott is slightly rusty, to which Sobel angrily states that he "wouldn't take this rusty piece of shit to war," and further adds that "I will not take you to war in your condition!" As a result of these minor infractions, Sobel summarily cancels the weekend passes of all the recruits.
At night Easy Company go for their Friday night walk which is a 12 mile process. After the walk Sobel gets his men to dump their canteens. During one of these, Sobel notices a trooper name Burt Christenson has no water come out of his canteen, where he accuses him of drinking before, and the Paratrooper receives heck from Sobel. He has the unfortunate boot repeat the run.
Sobel trained the men hard, through determination to make his company the finest in the regiment. He has them climb walls, do 30 pushups, and mock parachute jumping. Sobel trained them harder than necessary. He was a martinet and earned no respect from the men, but the men credited him that he made Easy Company.
Sometime during the training, Colonel Sink promotes Sobel to Captain for superb training skills, and tells him to promote 2nd Lieutenant Winters to 1st Lieutenant. Sobel accepts the promotion, and agrees to give Winters promotion as well. After scrounging around the men's stuff looking for contraband, Sobel tells Winters of his promotion, and giving him mess duty saying, "I like spaghetti, you know." He is then seen after lunch tormenting the men while running them down the hill. When he taunts Randleman though, saying that there's an ambulance down there, and that there will be no more Sobel after that, they burst into song, and run faster.
After training at Toccoa, the 506th heads to Fort Benning where they will do the jump and qualify as paratroopers. First the officers have to do the actual jump to prove their worth. When it's Sobel's turn, he is hesitant, but does it anyway.
They then head to Camp Mackall for extra training. During the training, Easy Company and another Company are doing attack training. Sobel's company is red team. He whispers to Pvt. Petty, who holds the map, to show him their position. He realizes that they are in the wrong position and he panics. Winters tries finding an alternative solution, but Sobel says, "C'mon, we can charge 'em now." They head forward, but the opposing team breaks cover and stand up, rifles pointed. A staff officer calmly walks over, and says "Captain, you have just been killed, as well as 90% of your Company," concluding that Sobel lost.
He later went on ship along with the entire division to head to Aldbourne, England for their next mission. While training there, Sobel and a platoon he was commanding came to a fence. Sobel was fumed by this saying, "We're the Goddamned Airborne." He ordered his platoon to hide behind the growth, while he, Petty, and another soldier try to figure out their position. A voice was heard behind the bushes addressing Sobel. It sounded like the Battalion XO Major Horton. He ordered them to cut the fence. Sobel did. Little did he know that it was Private George Luz, who along with the platoon was playing a trick on Sobel, using Luz's talent at imitation. Sobel was later reamed out by battalion commander Lt Col. Robert L. Strayer because he just allowed cows to escape by cutting the fence. Sobel said Major Horton told him to. The officer sarcastically kept on repeating Sobel's answer, and said that Horton was in London. Sobel was disgraced
Sobel later developed a grudge against Winters. He issued Winters a court martial for not inspecting the latrine, mostly because he had changed the time from 1000 hours, to 0945, though Winters wasn't informed. Later, a mutiny among the Companys' NCO's was forming, giving Colonel Sink, the Regimental commander, to wonder about Sobel's popularity in the company. In a fireplace room, he hinted at this, but Sobel said they were the finest men he had. Sink, however, reassigns Sobel to Chilton Foliat jump school, much to Sobel's horror.
Sobel was then sent back to the army and jumped into Normandy, sometime after the invasion to help with transferring supplies from the beach to the paratroopers. He met Sgt. Leo Boyle, who was wounded and was being evacuated. Sobel later was transferred back to the Battalion, and was made Logistics officer. His reappearance in episode 4 stunned a couple of Paratroopers there. Sobel had a brief chat with the now Technical Sergeant Donald Malarkey, which Sobel salutes him. Sobel berated Malarkey for a motorcycle he had, saying it was Army property and that it may not mean anything to Malarkey, but it means something to Sobel. He later participated in Operation Market Garden.
He then participated at the Battle of the Bulge, though not much was known about what he did during the battle.
He then participated in the occupation of Germany. During the occupation, he walked past without saluting the now Major Richard Winters. Winters called his name, Sobel tried to ignore, but responded "Major Winters" and continued to walk, Major Winters told him "You salute the rank, not the man". Sobel then saluted Winters.
Sobel went home and became an accountant. He was called for active duty during the Korean War, and Sobel went into the National Guard. He eventually achieved the rank of Lt. Col.. He retired after the war, married, and had a son named Michael and a second son named Herbert Jr. He was a great and loving father, but he divorced after having complications with his wife.
Sometime around the 1960s, he met Major Clarence Hester, who was Sobel's first Company Executive Officer, and later Battalion Operations Officer and they had lunch. Sobel had some mental problems from his war experience, and he was found to be bitter to life and Easy Company.
For an unknown reason in 1960s, he tried to commit suicide by shooting his head, but it only severed his optic nerves. He was later moved to a VA assitant living place, and resided there for 17 years, before he died of Malnutrition in 1987.
Sobel is depicted as a very strict commander who pushes the men to their limits to make his company the finest company. Dick Winters attributes Sobels overbareacne and strictness with making Easy Company the success that it became.