If You Hang Around This Earth Long Enough, You Really See How Things Come Full Circle
Ronald O. Kaiser will turn 90 on July 17, and he’s lived long enough to come full-circle with Lt. Col. Anthony B. Herbert. Kaiser and Herbert were childhood friends back in Herminie, Pennsylvania, where they both grew up.
Both men served in the Korean War. “The war started on June 25, 1950, and I enlisted on July 1,” said Kaiser, who lives in Franklin Park with his wife, Sue, whom he married in 1998. After the war, Kaiser came home, and after working in a steel mill, he finagled his way into the University of Pittsburgh on the G.I. Bill, where he indulged his passion for writing.
Herbert distinguished himself during the Korean War, so much so that President Harry Truman deemed him the most decorated soldier of the Korean War. “Tony Herbert was a model soldier and was used to recruit soldiers,” said Mr. Kaiser. “He was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division, and became a celebrity appearing on the game show You Bet Your Life and the Dick Cavett Show.”
While Kaiser built an impressive career in advertising, Hebert remained in the Army and rose through the ranks. The men lost track of each other for a time; Herbert served in Vietnam and Kaiser used his writing talent to write commercials for radio, television and newspapers.
While in Vietnam, Herbert reported that he witnessed war crimes committed by American troops and South Vietnamese soldiers. “This was after the My Lai incident and the government couldn’t afford another embarrassment like that, and Herbert was driven out of the service,” said Kaiser. “He wrote a book in 1972 called Soldier about his experiences in Vietnam, but in 1973, the late Mike Wallace and 60 Minutes sabotaged Herbert and accused him of war crimes.”
When Kaiser, who had always wanted to write a book, turned 80, he told himself that it was now or never, and he began to write his life story. It was through writing his life story that he began to think about his relationship with Herbert and started to investigate how Herbert had been railroaded by Wallace, 60 Minutes, the Pentagon and the Nixon administration. He decided to chronicle that. Kaiser published a book called Herbert’s War at the age of 89. Before it was released, Kaiser then learned that Herbert, who had left the Army and used his doctoral degree to work with prisoners in Colorado, had terminal cancer, and Kaiser called his old friend.
Kaiser shipped his book to his Herbert, but Kaiser doesn’t believe he lived long enough to read it. The book was released at the beginning of the pandemic, so that hampered Kaiser’s ability to promote the book in person, but the book is available at Amazon or on Mr. Kaiser’s website at: https://herbertswar.com/about-author-ron-kaiser/
“It’s a story that needed to be told,” said Kaiser.