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|Subject: Re: Jewish War Veterans||Date: 10/24/2006 7:45 PM|
|Author: WendyBG||Number: 11213 of 22506|
Dov, I'd like to share stories about two more Jewish war veterans.
One is my cousin Dave, now 83 years old. He graduated from the University of Michigan, with a degree in mechanical engineering, in (I think) 1943. He joined the U.S. Army, as a machinist.
Dave's job was to follow the U.S. troops, just behind the front lines. When a machine (tank, troop transport, jeep, etc.) broke down, it was Dave's job to diagnose the problem, then to machine any needed parts, then to repair the machine. Because Dave could machine the part, on site, the army supply chain didn't have to carry a large inventory of thousands of kinds of potentially-needed spare parts.
During the Battle of the Bulge, Dave ran out of the special steel, that was needed for machining parts. Taking an Army truck, plus one or two soldiers, Dave crossed the Rhine River to Aachen, behind the German lines. He knew that the Allies had bombed German factories, and he planned to scavenge machine steel, from the hulks of the factory machines.
While Dave was scavenging, he was challenged, by a German sentry. Dave answered in Yiddish, which was close enough to German, to pass the challenge. Whew!! We now know that Jewish prisoners of war were separated from other American prisoners of war, and sent to concentration camps. I'm not sure whether Dave's courage was ever recognized...I don't think so.
The other Jewish war veteran was my father, Richard. After he got his B.S. in electrical engineering, from CCNY, my father joined the U.S. Air Force, in 1950. He took the Officer Candidate test. The youngest man to ever have taken the test, at the time, he was also the first to score 100% on the test.
Although the Korean War was on, Richard wasn't sent to Korea. Instead, the newly wed 21-year-old electrical engineer was sent to OCS, then assigned to be the C.O. of an electronic/ radar tracking station, in Alaska. I believe that he spent 2 years there (with occasional breaks, during one of which my brother was conceived).
Richard stayed on, as a Reserve officer, for almost 20 years, after his active duty. I remember, as a kid, that he went weekly, to his Air Force station, at Idlewild Airport (now JFK Airport). The station was crammed with all kinds of electronics.
In later years, Dad told me that he and a buddy had "liberated" surplus electronic gear, and had built, entirely on their own, an early-warning radar system. He said that they probably would have been court-martialed, except that it was the first operational electronic warning system in the NYC area. Dad held the rank of Major, when he retired from the Air Force Reserve. At the time, the Vietnam War was raging, and the military was sending reserve officers. Dad had no desire to be sent to Vietnam.
Dad is no longer alive, but Dave still is. The patriotism and hard work of the Jewish veterans were second to none.
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