War Through the Eyes of a Storyteller


Herman Diel who goes by Herm is a quaint old man who enjoys the presence of anyone who will listen. Herm is opinionated, he likes to give his input and solve problems whether you would like to hear it or not. However, Herm is also strong and structured. He goes by the rules but knows when it is appropriate to break them, but most of all Herm is a storyteller and loves to bring joy to all.   

       The interview with Herm revealed a lot of interesting things about his life. When Herm enlisted in 1956, he enlisted because he, “wished to grow up”. He was only nineteen at the time and felt that joining the military would help him grow up. He chose to enlist in the army and was sent to Texas to train. Herm trained in Texas for three months. While he was there he trained as an artilleryman, learning how to fire a cannon. Herm said that after the first day he had learned everything he needed to know and that this job was very boring. After his three month, Herm was moved to Fort Knox. There Herm was given a job as a typist. Herm was upset by this job because he felt that he could out type anyone there but he was told stay where he was: “I got up even though I’d been told to stay here”. He remained at Fort Knox for nineteen months, doing routine jobs, such as cleaning, and he became a regimental clerk.

While Herm was stationed at Fort Knox, he said that he enjoyed an active social life, also saying that he made some friends while in the service. One of his friends was Bob Popper. Popper was a private along with Herm and they became good friends. Herm said that Popper was one of the smartest men he had met and that he went on to become a professor of law. Bob Cross was another one of Herm’s friends. Cross was originally a private but joined to second army choir to be closer to his girlfriend who was in New Jersey. Herm said that after Cross had left them, the men saw Cross on television, singing. He also recalled being friends with a captain: “Privates don’t become friends with captains.” Herm said that to go out with his friend who was a captain, he would have to dress as a captain, as to not draw attention to their odd friendship. Herm was able to maintain an active social life.

After we asked Herm all of the required military questions he began to branch out and tell us about the adventures he had had. He began to tell us advice and life lessons we should follow, like how we should “know when to keep our mouth shut”. His central message was that “the more you know the more fun it is.”