Hello Eden Prairie Veterans,
I understand that the Eden Prairie Memorial Day ceremony on May 28 will honor Bill Schiebler.
I have also listened to Schiebler's remarkable 2005 interview--published here. The comments which follow refer to the stories related by and about Schiebler within the two previous links.
It is improbable that Schiebler--an
officer--would have been assigned to guard Martin Luther King's car in
Selma, in 1965, prior to shipping out for Vietnam. If he had been,
it would be unprofessional for a US serviceman to salute Martin
Luther King--a civilian. In 1965 in Selma, it is improbable in
the extreme that a military officer assigned to protect MLK would
exchange a hug with him--as Schiebler claims King initiated.
Within a month of arriving in Vietnam, one of his best soldiers--a
Puerto Rican named Rodriguez--gets ripped off by four black soldiers--all
of whom are in the platoon of 45 men reporting to Schiebler.
then shoots the four black men dead, in addition badly wounding seven or eight
men. A half dozen survivors catch Rodriguez, but Schiebler tells them
to hold fire. Schiebler then offers Rodriguez a hug--and Rodriguez puts
down his grenade and surrenders as Schiebler and he share a cry.
There's a silver lining: Schiebler then pulls an all-nighter with his
remaining men, instructing them that from now on, they're family, and
they'll all address each other by first name. Schiebler happily reports
that Rodriguez is only locked up for a few years, and then set free, as
he'd been under a great deal of stress.
Schiebler later works alongside a black career soldier--a 'buck private'
named Jimbo. Jimbo proves his ingenuity by draping a mosquito net over
his helmet--which soon becomes standard practice--and invents a
brilliant way to prevent the M16 from jamming. Jimbo has an 'amazing
physique' and can do 250 pushups--and mouths off in the face to 'a four-star general,' earning Schiebler's admiration.
A mortar attack eventually
blows palm-sized chunks of flesh off Jimbo's calves, permanently disabling him, while Schiebler
emerges from the attack without a scratch. Observing the ghastly
injury, Schiebler sobs and reflects on the insignificance of race.
Schiebler and Jimbo are then medivacced to the Philippines and on to
Japan to recuperate, despite the fact that Schiebler is uninjured.
On another occasion, Schiebler captures a North Vietnamese soldier whose
feet are badly injured in combat. Schiebler briefly considers blowing
him away--since 'that's what their side does'--but then remembers Grandpa Schiebler's advice to young Bill,
prior to embarkation: 'God loves [captured VC] just as much as he
loves you.' So Bill carries wounded Charlie on his back about two
miles, to the American camp.
The wounded North Vietnamese soldier touchingly expresses his
appreciation for Schiebler by licking him on the back of the neck,
during the two-mile hike.
Back at the base, Schiebler's gringo subordinates want to abuse their
captured soldier, but Schiebler speaks with him through an interpreter--and learns the dude is a high-ranking 'sergeant major.'
Floored by Schiebler's kindness and affection, Necklicker borrows
Schiebler's freely-offered bayonet and draws a map of Vietnam in the dirt--pointing
out his home town and sharing that he has a wife and two daughters back
home. Sergeant Major Necklicker proves to be an intelligence goldmine, having learned what a
nice man Schiebler is.
Schiebler thinks he personally killed more than 100 enemy Vietnamese soldiers--and not a single civilian. He struggles greatly, mentally, upon returning home, but eventually finds it in his heart to forgive the Vietnamese, driving 200 miles one night to Fort Snelling Cemetery (from the family base of Port Edwards, Wisconsin), burying some blood-red roses in an adjacent ditch and returning home the same night.
Prairie News article--linked above--says that of 186 men in his group,
only four returned to the USA alive.
Can you confirm that you have rigorously verified Schiebler's trustworthiness, as a person meriting such an honor?
Very best wishes,