Eyewitness Statement of William W. Erbach

Eyewitness Statement of William W. Erbach  (1968) 
by William W. Erbach

From the National Archives and Records Administration; Record Group 472: Records of the U.S. Forces in Southeast Asia, 1950 - 1976; Series: Medal of Honor Awards Case Files, compiled 1965 - ca. 1972; File unit: Case File for Joe Hooper, ca. 1968 - ca. 1969; ARC #305374



Sgt Hooper was acting as squad leader of a squad Company D's 1st Platoon (2/501) on 21 February when the battalion was making a general assualt as part of Operation Jeb Stuart near Hue against a fortified enemy base camp. As Company D, which I was with that day, moved toward a stream in front of the enemy's lines they came under tremendous fire and appeared to be pinned down when Sgt Hooper got up and led his men across the stream under severe enemy fire. This got the entire company moving, and soon Sgt Hooper was seen moving out alone under the fire to bring back wounded who were pinned down. In doing this he was wounded himself, but he refused evacuation and went back to his men after applying a hasty bandage to his wound.

He took the lead in practically every assualt, storming bunkers and inspiring everyone in the area. He was wounded by grenade fragments later but still remained in the field. I was later wounded by a gunshot wound at close range. Sgt Hooper prevented the enemy from killing me by rushing to my position and shooting the enemy. He then helped carry me to the rear, and after making sure I was well cared for once more returned to the field.

As I was trying to inspire the men on the field I found that Sgt Hooper's amazing bravery was the greatest inspiration possible and made hero out of timid men as they attempted to follow his example. I cannot help but believe that much of the company's success was directly resultant from the gallantry and heroism of Sgt Hooper.

William W. Erbach

CPT, Chaplain
2d Bn (Abn) 501st Inf


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).