Brian Whaley Music

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Answering The Call

This song was inspired by the story of Sergeant David Herbert and the Battle of Ho Krignou. Though Herbert had recently made Sergeant rank, he died before he could receive his stripes. In the confusion of the war Herbert's achievement was forgotten. Forgotten by most that is. His family had not forgotten and neither had his Captain.

Captain James Magner was a Recon Platoon Leader in Vietnam in 1966. Dave Herbert, one of his squad leaders, was killed in the final minutes of the ferocious five hour 'Battle of Ho Krignou.' He died in the arms of his captain. Magner wrote to Dave's mother and told her of his incredible heroism. They were under attack and greatly outnumbered. Dave was one of the pillars of strength. They threw the enemy back each time they attacked. Finally, the enemy ran away.

Many years later, Captain Magner discovered that Herbert's promotion to sergeant had not gone through. He had been buried a Corporal.

Magner asked U.S. Senator Jim Webb to help set the record straight. It worked. He then wrote to some old soldiers who were at that battle. The memories came flooding back. They came together on a cold windy morning at The Wall on Veteran's day 2011. Magner and other 1st Infantry Division soldiers, the men who were there at that battle, greeted one another after many years and miles. Dave's mother, Vilate Nielsen, then 90 years old and Dave's brothers and sisters came all the way from Idaho. Many others gathered as well. And finally, after 45 years, they presented Dave his stripes.

Here is part of Captain Magner's speech from that morning:

"We fought for 4 or 5 hours. We weren't reinforced. We got no new ammunition. We were down to nothing. Not one of those kids ever thought about running. Not one of those kids ever thought about trying to get away. Dave was with them, Dave was a leader. He was one of the 'mountains' there that everybody else kind of gathered around. And they stood there right to the very end."

I have tried to capture the moment of the battle, the moving ceremony at The Wall, and the essence of duty in 'Answering the Call.'

Captain James J. Magner has written a book about Dave, the battle and how they all fought together in a strange and beautiful place those many years ago when they were young. It is called A Haunting Beauty; Vietnam Through the Eyes of an Artist'.

You can visit his website to learn more:


Brian Whaley