Author of ‘Herbert’s War’ coming to Shaler North Hills Library
Monday, February 17, 2020 | 11:00 PM
Anthony Herbert of Herminie, Westmoreland County, joined the Army in 1947. The coal miner’s son rose through the ranks to become a Lieutenant Colonel. One of the Korean War’s most decorated soldiers, he earned five Silver Stars, four Purple Hearts, four Bronze Stars, two Air Medals and a Soldier’s Medal.
Herbert never anticipated his military career ending due to a forced resignation for speaking out against war atrocities that he reportedly witnessed in Vietnam, which his commanding officers neglected to investigate.
“Herbert’s War” is a non-fiction book recounting how the Army, Pentagon, White House and CBS “60 Minutes” sought to discredit Herbert for reporting numerous crimes, including a South Vietnamese soldier slashing a mother’s throat while her child grasped her pant leg and an American official watched.
Author Ronald O. Kaiser will share his friend’s story at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 25 at Shaler North Hills Library, 1822 Mt. Royal Blvd., Glenshaw. Register at shalerlibrary.org or by calling 412-486-0211.
Kaiser of Franklin Park learned about his lifelong friend’s allegations from a local newspaper story.
“As soon as I saw the headline, ‘Officer accuses Army of cover-up,’ I just somehow knew it was Tony because he was a very outspoken guy. He was always for the underdog. And he never, ever, ever that I know of, backed down from anything if he thought it was right.”
Kaiser, 88, said, “All hell broke loose” after Herbert reported the offenses to his deputy and the commanding general of the 173rd Airborne.
“The Army tried to discredit him. A bomb was placed in his car at one of the bases. The secretary of the Army personally intervened.”
“I never doubted about the war crimes. I was not surprised that Tony was fighting his commanding officers because Tony was always a bit of a rebel,” Kaiser said about the veracity of his friend’s claims.
Kaiser said that the Army tried to bribe Herbert with a promotion.
“He refused to do it because he felt that it was wrong of the Army. It’s very rare for people to stand by their principles and to give up their careers and everything else.”
“Herbert’s War” contains a news release stating that President Richard Nixon approved the promotion. The government released it to the media, Kaiser said, prior to Herbert accepting the position. When Herbert turned down the role, it proved embarrassing for the government, Kaiser said.
Kaiser’s book contains Army memos to CBS “60 Minutes” for a 1973 piece about Herbert’s claims. Herbert sued CBS for portraying him as untruthful.
“The most important thing about ‘Herbert’s War’ is that it is truth backed up by fact, gleaned from the Army and ‘60 Minutes’ internal documents and sworn testimony,” Kaiser, a retired advertising professional, said.
“Tony Herbert loved the Army and they loved him. Soldiers like him don’t come by too often, but when he refused to cover up war crimes because he thought it would harm the Army, they turned on him and destroyed him. I will keep fighting to get his story out until the lid closes on my casket.”
Herbert and Kaiser studied together at the University of Pittsburgh. While Herbert was in the Army, he continued his studies, eventually becoming a doctor of psychology. Following his military career, he worked in that field and wrote six books before his 2014 death.
“Kaiser’s engrossing tale underscores one overarching truth: His friend Tony Herbert was the quintessential American soldier of duty, valor, service to country, and above all, honor and integrity,” Chris Magoc, Mercyhurst University history professor, wrote in a review. “If Hollywood is ever determined to make a Vietnam War movie about an American soldier of high virtue and moral rectitude, Herbert’s story would be it, and Kaiser’s book would be the basis for the screenplay.”