Honoring the Jews of WWII on Pearl Harbor Day

The Japanese sneak attack on America’s naval base at Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, should have come as no surprise to our military and government leaders.
Less than a year earlier, the United States had begun a lend-lease program to send war materials to its ally, Great Britain, an enemy of Germany (Japan’s ally). Also, the United States was leading the effort to prevent oil from reaching the Japanese war machine. It was just a matter of time before the Japanese would strike, and we should have been ready for the attacks.
Soon came the rallying cry, “Let’s Remember Pearl Harbor,” and America’s industrial might quickly shifted into wartime mode.
While most waited to be drafted, many young men and women rushed to the enlistment centers to the defense of their country.
Although the Jewish population was only 4½ million, or 3.33 percent of the nation’s 135 million, it provided 4.23 percent of its armed forces.
Of the Jewish men and women in the U.S. military, 26,000 received 49,315 awards, including all levels of distinction and bravery. Among those were 14,550 Purple Hearts and three Congressional Medals of Honor.
Many people forget that a million Jews also fought against the Axis powers while serving in the armies of Great Britain, Poland and Russia.
Who were some of these young patriotic American Jews who stepped up in the Jewish American tradition to serve their country during World War II?
Here are just a few local examples of Jewish patriots I have known personally who served our nation well during the Second World War. There are likely numerous others. May their memory be a blessing.
Rudy Baum, left Frankfurt, Germany, 1936. Parents died in the Holocaust. Drafted and became part of military intelligence, a “Ritchie (Maryland) Boy.” Received Bronze Star, promoted to Captain.
Shirley Greenwald, Captain, U.S. Army Hospital Nurse, Germany.
Roland Greenwald, Sgt. Major, U.S. Army, served under Gen. George Patton, guard at Nuremburg Trials, Served 1944-1972. Assignments included Germany, Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan. JWV Post Commander.
Hillel “Hy” Perlstein, Army 1943-46, machine-gunner. Wounded in action six months before war’s end.
Leon Rubenstein, U.S. Navy, S First Class, Pacific invasions, Okinawa, Iwo Jima Ship hit by kamikazes, but he survived. Not all were so lucky.
Stanley Shulkin, U.S. Army Air Corps, 1942-46, Link trainer instructor for P-38s, B-17s, B-24’s and B-29s. Became JWV Post Commander.
Jordan Uttal, U.S. Army Air Corps,1941-45, radar operator, OCS to Lt., Major, Control Officer, Bronze Star, Croix de Guerre. Married British lady. Established Second Division Air Force Association.
And a snappy salute of veteran’s appreciation to Dallas Rabbi Andrew Paley of Temple Shalom for his popular annual Veteran’s Shabbat Service held each November.
It should be noted that Gen. David Goldfein has become the second Jew to lead the United States Air Force.
I am sorry to say that, unlike in the past, Jews now make up just a small fraction (4,515) of today’s U.S. military.
Weak Jewish participation in America’s armed forces provides fodder for the anti-Semitic propagandists.
We must consider America’s defense of Israel as an additional obligatory reason to increase the Jewish contribution to America’s military forces.
I believe that as Jews, we have an obligation to provide at least a proportionate number of military members as reflects our population. Just as on Dec. 7, 1941, “We must always be prepared.”

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