Military Order of the Purple Heart

Texas Capital Chapter 1919 Austin, Texas


1924 - 2010

11th Armored Division



Patriot, Chapter 1919

 (ARMY, WWII, Europe) Article October 1997

This is a Horatio Alger story if there ever was one.  Escaping from Germany and the coming holocaust just before the outbreak of WWII, Herbert’s family settled in San Antonio, Texas. He enlisted and returned to Europe with the 11th Armored Division and was wounded in Belgium.  After the war this naturalized American veteran earned his PhD at Harvard and then became a distinguished political scientist, educator, author, politician and United States Ambassador.  He is also a charter member who played a big part in establishing Chapter 1919 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in Austin. 

Herbert Spiro was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1924. Members of his family had lived for more than 300 years in that prosperous old port city of the Hanseatic League, but; Nazi anti-semitism increasingly threatened an almost idyllic life. Fortunately for them, relatives had been part of the early-day German emigration to Texas; so, an elderly Aunt in San Antonio successfully sponsored the Spiro family’s move to America in 1938. Herbert's high school education in Hamburg's Wilhelm Gymnasium was only briefly interrupted.  He graduated from Brackenridge High School in San Antonio. 

Herbert Spiro enlisted in the Army in June 1943. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen while he was in training in 1944; and, by the end of that year he was with Headquarters, Combat Command A, 11th Armored Division in action in Europe. Herbert received the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in Belgium in January 1945. By war's end he also had two awards of the Bronze Star Medal and had risen to the rank of Master Sergeant, as an interrogator of Prisoners of War. 

After the war he applied for admission to Harvard University.  With help from the G.I. Bill, he graduated summa cum laude in 1949, then remained to complete his Master's Degree and then a PhD in 1953. Since then, he has taught political science at Harvard, Amherst, the University of Pennsylvania, the Free University of Berlin, the University of Chicago, Stanford, Princeton, and the University of Texas. He has held administrative positions in the U.S. War Department in Vienna, Austria and was on the Policy Planning Staff in the U.S. State Department in Wash. D.C.  In the mid-1970's, he served as the United States Ambassador to Cameroon and also was Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea. Herbert Spiro has authored or co-authored more than a dozen books (on Foreign Policy, the Constitution, the U.S. Government, the German Government, World Politics, and African States Government, among other titles). Herbert has been a long-time member of the Republican party and was the Republican candidate for the office of U.S. Representative from Texas' 10th District (Austin) in 1992. 

As a retired United States Ambassador, Herbert Spiro continued to participate in international scholarly and diplomatic conferences, appeared as a guest lecturer at various universities, and hosted a weekly show, “Spiro’s Conversations” every Tuesday evening on Austin Community Television. Herbert is currently living in San Antonio where he is a member of the Alamo Chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Herbert Spiro passed away in 2010 after having moved to San Antonio and becoming a member of Chapter 1836
Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Herbert Spiro receiving decoration from Division Commander


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