In Memory of a Super Soldier

by Ivy Scarborough | December 30th, 2015

The following are the words Ivy Scarborough spoke at the recent funeral of Brigadier General Herb Lloyd. General Lloyd was a close and dear friend of Ivy’s for many years and his story is a worthy commendation to all that strive to live noble and merciful lives. An excerpt from Into the Night will be in a subsequent post telling the story of Lloyd defending the honor of fallen American black soldiers.

West Point Academy & cadets

Remarks by Ivy Scarborough at His Funeral

One day in 1984 I arrived at the U.S. Army War College as a civilian who had been invited to a weeklong series of briefings. As I was being ushered to the briefing room, the captain escorting me said: “You are very fortunate sir. The Super Soldier was assigned to you.”

Of course I asked what he meant and I recall being struck by the observation that would prove to be a recurring theme where Herb Lloyd was concerned. The captain explained that this title was not simply about multiple medals for valor and extensive combat experience. But to many, including the captain, it was about then Lt. Col Lloyd’s inspirational impact on those who came into contact with him.

I would be one of those inspired by this man. Before that week was out, Herb Lloyd and I discovered that we were kindred spirits who instinctively understood one another. We communicated effortlessly and found common ground repeatedly on a multitude of topics. We talked about that meeting in ensuing years and agreed this was a “divine appointment” and no coincidence.

In the words of Dr. James Wilson, a retired professional military man from Northern Ireland, Herb Lloyd was the “Alvin York of our time.” James was referring to not only Herb’s martial skills and achievements but, more importantly, the immense moral courage of a man of deep faith.

Herb was a leader in the most authentic sense of that term. There are many people in positions of leadership but few true leaders. Through family, I had the opportunity to see many of his performance reviews from commanding officers under which Herb served. I was struck again by the recurring theme most often expressed in words such as: “This man is a remarkable leader. He inspires other men beyond anyone I have seen.”

Herb came from hardship and poverty. There were forces in his life that would have turned many to take the low road. But Herb was always choosing the high road. He gave credit for those choices over and over to his devoted and sainted mother whose faith commitment to Jesus Christ was deep and central. Her character and powerful influence of faith carried over in Mark, Herb’s son, who Herb described to me as someone who had influenced him to an ever-deepening faith.

Many who knew Herb and knew him well, in one sense, did not understand him. They did not perceive what drove the man—those deep closely held beliefs and values that are behind every human being’s choices throughout life.

Herb is best understood by four prominent character traits:

1) His commitment to Christ that was the axis around which everything else in his life turned.
2) His love of his fellowman that was an outgrowth of his faith.
3) His role as a warrior and professional soldier was merely the role through which he expressed those deeper beliefs and values. I said to him once that his mother must have been prescient since “Herbert” is an old Germanic name meaning “Glorious Warrior.”
4) The passion and intensity of his belief in Christ, his commitment to his values, and his love for others were beyond anything I have seen in any other person.

Herb’s passion and intensity were difficult for many to understand and for some even to accept. Herb was like a huge bonfire that gave off brilliant light and immense heat. Some misinterpreted his energy while others often wished to shield themselves from it. Herb’s values and beliefs manifested themselves time and again in many ways. The most obvious was in his commitment to fight. Choosing multiple tours in Vietnam, and later placing himself repeatedly in dangerous places where he could use his martial skills to serve, were all part of Herb’s commitment to serve. For him the term “service” held special significance, and he especially admired and supported those in whom he saw the desire to serve.

His twelve American and two South Vietnamese medals for valor were indicative of a special species of courage. A soldier may in one engagement distinguish himself with such skill and courage that he is honored by a Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross, or Medal of Honor. The significance of the honor can be immense.

But a man who repeatedly chooses because of his beliefs and values to put himself in danger is displaying what I believe is an even more significant form of courage. It is one thing to saddle up and ride toward the guns even when very frightened. It is quite another when a man does that over and over knowing what that choice may lead to and well understanding the horrors of combat.

With what, to some, would seem paradoxical conduct, Herb called me one day about ten years ago and asked for my help. He told me of poor Bosnian students serving as his interpreters who had been made even more destitute by the recent war some having lost parents as victims of the war. He asked if I thought there was a possibility scholarships might be obtained that would permit them to go to Union University in Jackson, TN if he would pay to get them there.

I promised I would try. After praying about it, I contacted the then president of Union and made the appeal without benefit of even academic transcripts for the students. The matter would have to be decided on the strength of the statements of an American general unknown to the university president. Through what can only have been Divine intervention, the objective was achieved. Not only did the students receive full academic scholarships for four years but also financial support from a donor who paid their housing and food for those years!

With the alertness of a great warrior who recognized a tactical opportunity, Herb then asked about the possibilities of doing this yet again at other schools. Through his diligence and dogged determination, Herb made appeals to several colleges and multiple prospective donors and managed to get nearly fifty Bosnian students through American colleges in the next few years. Several completed graduate degrees. Herb called this his “Mini-Marshall Plan” hoping that the experiences would cause these young people to return home and influence their native culture for American values and beliefs.

It is essential to note that this all occurred shortly after 9/11. Herb, then and later, fought radical Muslims in various places around the world. Yet many of these same students he so generously aided were Muslims! Only a Christ-like love can explain that.

Episode after episode in combat resulted in expressions of Herb’s faith, but one in particular stands out from the many Herb described to me. The American military was caught nearly completely off guard with the Tet Offensive in January of 1968. As that played out in Vietnam, most Americans were sleeping but one person was not. Herb’s mother awoke that night alarmed and began to pray. When asked why by her daughter Janice, she explained that she felt Herb was in danger and she must pray. She continued throughout the night.

Indeed, Herb was in danger; so much so that he and others were at risk of annihilation. With unabashed honesty, he described how he furiously prayed out loud, “Lord, Let me live!” “Lord, let me live!” “Lord, let me live!” all while reloading and firing, reloading and firing.

Inexplicably, he felt he should look behind him. As he did he saw an image of Christ! Strangely, Christ appeared to be cloaked in a pink garment. Later, when talking about this with his sister Janice, Herb learned that his mother had stayed up praying. But of striking significance was that Janice described their mother wearing an old red housedress that, having been washed so many times, appeared pink!

Jesus once declared: “I have not found such faith in all Israel.” He was referring to a Roman Centurion, a professional soldier! That verse would apply to Herb Lloyd.
Herb was always lifting others up. He lifted them practically and spiritually. He would want anyone to know that they too could lead a glorious life—one of service and filled with meaning and purpose.

Herb would explain that only two things were required: First, to surrender one’s life to Christ. Surrender—a word that is repugnant to a professional soldier but essential to a life of faith. Then the seeker of a glorious and meaningful life must follow God; as the Bible says, “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”

Herb Lloyd did both of those things sometimes faltering, as all do, in the latter. But he never failed to get back up and head up the narrow path to the high mountaintops. Because he did, untold numbers of people have been blessed.

I thank God for having known Herb Lloyd.

About Ivy Scarborough

Ivy Scarborough is a writer, commentator, former adjunct professor, television, radio and print commentator, radio program host, professional mediator, and lawyer.

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