"During World War II, he ran away to join the Marines, but was sent home the next day because he was just 14. He enlisted in the Army three years later and, bemedaled with four Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars and four Purple Hearts, became the most decorated enlisted man during the Korean War. He volunteered for service in Vietnam, where, as a lieutenant colonel, he earned a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, an Air Medal and an Army Commendation Medal in only 58 days of combat.
And then, on April 4, 1969, Anthony B. Herbert, the Army poster boy from the Pennsylvania coalfields, was abruptly relieved of his command.
Colonel Herbert said he had been sacked for exposing brutality against civilians by American troops —
[During the Korean War, he was s]elected by the Army for a delegation of distinguished soldiers representing the United Nations, he met President Harry S. Truman and the former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who urged him to get a college degree.
After marrying Marygrace Natale, who survives him along with his daughter, Toni, and two grandchildren, he graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English, re-enlisted again, became commander of an Army Ranger unit and served as an R.O.T.C. instructor at the University of Georgia, where he earned a master’s in psychology.
In August 1968, he joined the 173rd Airborne Brigade stationed in the central highlands of South Vietnam. It was there as commander of the Second Battalion of the 503rd Infantry, he said, that he witnessed what he described as eight war crimes, including serial executions of detainees and water torture of a prisoner.
He reported the offenses to the commanding general of the 173rd Airborne and his deputy. The next day, Colonel Herbert was relieved of his command and dealt a devastating efficiency report.
He then turned around and filed charges against the officers and challenged the efficiency report, and it was eventually withdrawn. He was later promoted, and, after being wounded 14 times, he retired early from the Army in 1972.
But on Feb. 4, 1973, in a segment produced for “60 Minutes” by Barry Lando, the reporter Mike Wallace portrayed Colonel Herbert as a liar who had revealed war crimes only after the My Lai massacre became public late in 1969 and who was guilty of brutality himself.
He sued for $44 million in a case that would inch forward for 12 years.
While the case unfolded, Colonel Herbert, in retirement from the military, earned a doctorate in psychology from the University of Georgia in 1975. He later practiced privately in Colorado, served as an efficiency consultant to state legislatures and wrote several other books.
Books, indeed, had become dear to him. Not long before he resigned from the Army, he was stuck in a humdrum recruiting job, where, he said at the time, at least “I get to do a lot of reading.”
“Books I never had time for before,” he said. “Books like ‘Catch 22.’ ”"
The Washington Post obit is even better:
"His 1973 book “Soldier” was reportedly used as inspiration by actor Robert Duvall, who played an air cavalry lieutenant colonel — the one who says, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” — in the 1979 film “Apocalypse Now.”
“People tell me I should see ‘Apocalypse Now’ because the Duvall character is modeled after me, and others tell me the Brando character, Kurtz, is modeled after me,” Dr. Herbert told The Post in 1979. “I’m not Brando; Brando’s not me . . .
“And I don’t want to see any [expletive] war movies. If I want to see a movie, I go to ‘The Sound of Music.’ I’ve seen it 31 times.”"
Here's an interesting article on Dr. Herbert's involvement in a missing person's case (when he was 80 years old).