Historical Dictionary



French special operations officer during the Indochina War. In 1931, he joined the Foreign Legion and participated in the continued “pacification” of Morocco. He entered the resistance during World War II, was taken prisoner but escaped to make his way to Algeria. There, he joined in 1943 the Bureau central de renseignements et d’action (BCRA) and became a trained paratrooper under American instruction. In Indochina, he continued to work in special commando operations. In January 1947, he was seriously wounded and lost part of his left leg. This did not stop him from returning to Indochina in 1952 in the 1er Régiment de chasseurs parachutistes. His long experience in commando operations made him a natural recruit for the Groupement de commandos mixtes aéroportés. He went to work developing a maquis among the Hmong in the highlands of northern Vietnam as part of a wider strategy of harassing Vietnamese supply lines and military movements. He worked in the Na San region with the regional representative of North Vietnam and set up a Hmong maquis in 1953 in the Song Ma valley and along route 41 in an attempt to harass adversary supply lines running into upper Laos and northwest Vietnam. In many ways, Hébert was one of the French army’s first “political cadres”, sent into hostile territory to win over local support. See also MINORITY ETHNIC GROUPS.