Lt FRANK HERBICK
Forward Observer; C/1/14th Inf Regt; Battalion S-1, 2/9th FA
I was in the big battle of the Ia Drang Valley, which occurred one year after the 7th Air Cav engaged in a fierce fight there. It became the subject of the movie: "We Were Soldiers...and Young". It took place between 13Nov 6 and 21Nov66. On 13Nov66,"A" Company, 1/14th Inf Regiment was ambushed by a much larger NVA force. We were almost out of ammo and about 60% of our company was either wounded or dead. Two of our platoon leaders were dead, and one was wounded. During a lull in the fighting, The Forward Air Controller told us that the NVA were grouped up to hit us again from the East again. He couldn’t adjust the artillery on them because "C" Company, 1/14, was moving towards us from the same direction and because of the thick canopy he couldn’t tell how close they were to us. The NVA didn’t know "C" Company was moving in behind them. When "C" Company hit them they broke contact and scattered. If "C" Company had not gotten to us when they did, we would have been overrun. The NVA had already penetrated our perimeter once.
Lt Frank Herbick had just arrived in Vietnam just days before this combat action.. He was assigned as the Forward Observer (FO) for C/1/14 and was immediately thrown into the combat in the Ia Drang Valley. He arrived just in time to save my Company.
It was November, 1966. After in-processing at Tan Son Nhut airbase, I was flown to Pleiku with Frank Herbick. We were both Field Artillery officers, reporting in as "new guys" (although we were called something else). After landing at the airstrip, we found nothing and no one. "Let's go back home", I said. Finally a deuce and a half drove up and the driver spotted our shiny artillery insignia. We both arrived dressed in "stateside khakis". Frank and I got a ride to the 2/9th FA Battalion HQ for an interview with the Operations Officer for unit assignment. Frank went in first and was assigned to C/1/14. He was told that the unit he would be serving with as their Forward Observer were in contact with the enemy at the Ia Drang Valley. Now, Frank was about twice my size, so I guess they figured he would have the stamina. I was assigned to A/2/35 which was located on Hwy 19, the "main drag" and most important road in the Central Highlands. The VC kept pulling off roadside ambushes very effectively there and firing mortars on a "hit & run" basis. It wasn't long, though, before A/2/35 got the call to "go help" in the Ia Drang fight. Things weren't going well there. That is, until Frank & C/1/14 joined the fight. They got in behind the larger NVA force that had our guys pinned down and about to be overrun. The NVA lost the advantage; they scattered.
I didn't see much of Frank after that, but he was assigned to the 2/9th FA Bn Hq as the Adjutant after his FO service. I would see him occasionally at the Duc Pho (LZ Montezuma) base. After many delays, it was Frank who got my R&R orders cut. I almost went home without getting an R&R. As the XO of "A" Battery, they needed me in the field. But Frank got it done and I will be forever grateful.
I ran into Frank again at Ft Sill where I was attending the summer Artillery Advanced Course. I invited him to visit me in Ocean Springs and I showed him around. We stayed in touch through emails and The Mighty Ninth website. As Frank knew his health was failing in 2020, he left Myrtle Beach to be closer to family in Georgia, then later Nevada.
His son, Bob, contacted me to let me know his Dad passed away on 12Nov21.
There are way too many unsung heroes that served in Vietnam. Thanks to our twisted media, the world will never the heroes or their heroics. Frank was a hero.
Lt Dennis Dauphin
MEMORY OF FRANK HERBICK:
attending OCS at Ft Sill, OK to become a Lieutenant in Field Artillery, my good
friend Lt Frank Herbick had several great assignments as an enlisted soldier at
the Pentagon in Washington, DC. He
met some of the great Officers who served in WWII and
the Washington notables in the political world. I was amazed at some of the big
names of that era that he had the opportunity to meet and speak with.
I was envious.
told me the story of the night he and a fellow soldier were assigned to “hat
check” duty for all the high-ranking officers attending a conference.
They would stand at parade rest in true military fashion while awaiting
requests for service. Once called
upon, they would make a smart “about face” and perform their duty. His
partner on this assignment was quite good at “throwing his voice” in
Frank’s direction, pretending to be someone asking for their headgear.
As a good soldier, Frank would execute an “about face” and head for
the closet, only to find that his partner on duty was the one asking for his
headgear. This little joke was repeated once too often; Frank was getting weary
next time Frank heard a request for headgear, Frank didn’t budge.
Instead, he said, “Get your own f*****g cap!”
There was an awkward silence. Something was wrong here. Frank turned
around only to see four-star general Curtis LeMay!
Frank made many sincere apologies, of course.
Gen LeMay just told him, “You know, soldier, that’s the first time in
my life that someone told me to get my own f*****g cap.”
He laughed it off; he understood that hat check duty can be very boring.
true story as told by Frank Herbick
Lt Dennis L. Dauphin