Herbert Sobel

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Military person

Herbert M. Sobel Sr. (26 January 1912 – 30 September 1987)[1] was a commissioned officer with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division during World War II. Sobel was portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by David Schwimmer.

Early life and education

Sobel was born in Chicago, Illinois, to a Jewish family.[2] He attended the Culver Military Academy in Indiana.[3] He was a clothing salesman.[4] He graduated from the University of Illinois, majoring in architecture.[4]

Military career

Sobel volunteered for the paratroopers soon after the outbreak of World War II and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Promoted to first lieutenant, Sobel commanded Company E for all of their basic training at Camp Toccoa, Georgia. He trained his men intensely, and was eventually promoted to the rank of captain in recognition of his ability as a trainer. Yet for all of that – Sobel was despised by his soldiers for being petty and vindictive.

After a period of training in the United Kingdom before the Normandy invasion, Captain Sobel was reassigned from command of Easy Company.[5] Sobel jumped into Normandy and earned a CIB as part of Regimental Headquarters Company – to command the Chilton Foliat jump school.[5] First Lieutenant Thomas Meehan replaced Sobel, and was one of several officers (including Richard Winters) to succeed him in that post before the end of the war.[5]

Sobel was assigned as the regimental S-4 (logistics) officer on 8 March 1945.[6]

Later life and death

Sobel returned to the United States in 1945,[7] and worked as an accountant before being recalled to active duty during the Korean War.[8] He remained in the Army National Guard, eventually retiring at the rank of lieutenant colonel. He later married, and had three children.[9]

In 1970, Sobel shot himself in the head with a small-caliber pistol.[10] The bullet entered his left temple, passed behind his eyes, and exited out the other side of his head. This severed his optic nerves and left him blind.[10] He was later moved to a VA assisted living facility in Waukegan, Illinois. He resided there for his last seventeen years until his death due to malnutrition on 30 September 1987.[11][10] No services were held for him after his death.[10]


Sobel was portrayed as a petty and capricious martinet in the television series Band of Brothers, generating much debate.[12] Stephen Ambrose gives numerous examples of this in his book.[13] Since the series, his son Michael has spoken out on his behalf.[12] In interviews, some Easy Company veterans have acknowledged the part Sobel's training played in the company's later successes. Writing of him in their autobiographies, he is recalled with little fondness by fellow officers, who regarded him as a dilettante in the practical matters of ground combat, particularly due to his pronounced lack of understanding of common infantry field craft such as land navigation and basic infantry combat tactics, as well as a refusal to listen to the advice of fellow officers or NCOs.

Honors and awards


  1. "United States Social Security Death Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J21V-LML : 20 May 2014), Herbert M Sobel, 30 Sep 1987; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
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  3. The Roll Call. Culver, Indiana: Culver Military Academy. 1929. p. 163. http://www.classmates.com/siteui/yearbooks/240378?page=163. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
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  7. "New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957". https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L94P-ZDQH. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
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  11. "Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994". https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV9K-JL1Y. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
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External links

Template:Band of Brothers (miniseries)