The honorary service of Jews has been of great significance in the history of the United States. Many of them have served in the country’s armed forces since the colonial era. In the times of the Revolutionary War, many had fought and even sacrificed their lives. There were thousands of American Jews who served in the US military in the First World War. Among them was a 19-year old, William Shemin.
He had taken many US soldiers to safety while serving in France during World War I. While commanding the remaining unit, he had to suffer from wounds caused by shrapnel and machine gun bullets. There have been many such solders in the American army who showed exceptional courage during wars. Here are some of the best books about Jews who served in the US military:
1. Goldfish – Silver Boot
Harvey S. Horn was a former Air Force flight officer. He had enlisted in the Army Air Corps to serve his country. The book talks in detail about war and the resilience of a human being. It also talks about the body’s ability to adapt to certain conditions that are beyond one’s control. This is a story that many prisoners of war would resonate with.
Flight officer Harvey S. Horn had endured some truly extreme situations. Every day was a harrowing experience for him. He was the part of 772nd Bomber Squadron based in the Italian city of Foggia. On the 20th of March 1945, he was assigned along with several others to Flying Fortress B-17G. Their mission was to bomb the marshaling yards located south of Vienna in Austria.
They got hit by flak over Zagreb in Yugoslavia. As a result, they landed in Quarnero Bay. The German Navy took them away as prisoners of war. During those times, being captured by the Germans itself was a great misfortune. Being a Jew among those captured was even worse. This book documents the 36 days of author, which he spent as a prisoner of war.
2. Admiral Boorda’s Navy
This is a biography of Jeremy Michael Boorda, who was the Chief of Naval Operations in the US Navy. He had served from April 1994 to May 1996. He was also a grandson of the Jews who had escaped the Czarist Russia. Admiral Michael Boorda was born in Indiana’s South Bend city. After dropping out of high school, he enlisted and was sent to officer candidate school after six years.
Later, he became the first Jew to become the Chief of Naval Operations. He had years of experience at sea and on shore during combat as well as peacetime. In this biography, author Malcolm Steinberg chronicles the history and politics during Admiral Boorda’s career. He was a caring and brilliant man who loved his family, country, and his country’s navy.
3. Jewish Aviators in World War II
During the Second World War, more than 150,000 Jewish personnel in US Air Force had served their country. Despite such great contributions, they had to face scorn and bigotry from their fellow servicemen. The Jews were seen by some as cowardly and disloyal. They had to face the accusations of taking up relatively easy assignments and thus sitting out the war.
In the book, author Bruce Wolk interviews over a hundred Jewish air veterans. The oral history detailed in this book features some intriguing recollections. They are from the Jewish air force personnel from all branches of service. The book also contains recollections from Jewish women who served in Women Airforce Service Pilots or WASP.
All of them talk about their combat experiences and the anti-Semitism that prevailed in the ranks. Among these aviators were the ones who had to endure some extremely tough times as prisoners of war.
4. Single Handed
Author Daniel M Cohen presents a highly inspiring story of Tibor Rubin in this book. It is based on eyewitness accounts and extensive interviews. The book gives the reader a stirring portrait of this true hero called Tibor ‘Teddy’ Rubin. He was a thirteen-year-old Hungarian Jew in 1944, when the Nazis captured him. He found himself in the notorious Mauthausen concentration camp.
For over a year, this teenager endured the concentration camp’s horrors. He did survive the Holocaust, but arrived penniless in the United States, barely able to speak English. He volunteered for the Korean War in 1950. During the war, he single-handedly defended a hill against enemy soldier. In another act of heroism in the war, he braved sniper fire for rescuing a comrade who was wounded.
He got captured and had to spend more than two years as a prisoner of war. Based on his experience in Mauthausen, he also helped his fellows survive this period of captivity. He returned to his home country in 1953. However, it wasn’t until 2005 that he got an invitation to to the White House. He was 76 at the time. President George W Bush presented him the Medal of Honor.
It took more than half a century for the United States to recognize Tibor’s contribution. His acts of bravery went beyond the call of duty. He became the only Holocaust survivor to have earned the highest military distinction of the United States.
5. Hope and Honor
This is the autobiography of Sidney Shachnow. A highly decorated Vietnam War veteran, Major General Sidney Shachnow had survived some terrible days as a child. He was sent to the notorious Kovno Concentration Camp when the Nazi forces occupied Eastern Europe. It was heavy manual labor that helped him survive the horrors of the concentration camp. He managed to escape from there and eventually journeyed to the United States.
Shachnow was able to work his way through school and enlisted in the US Army. He volutneered for the US Special Forces, serving for 32 years. It was his aim to save others from the terrible conditions he had endured. From Vietnam to the fall of the Berlin Wall, Shachow served in many special operations.
As the Special Forces grew, he rose to the position of Major General. Wherever he served, the lessons that he learned at Kovno always stayed with him. His will to live helped him get through the death camp in Kovno. In the end, it gave him immense strength of the body, mind, and soul.