Biography of Tibor Rubin

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk



Tibor Rubin


     Tibor Rubin is without doubt the greatest military hero the U.S. service has ever seen. Nevertheless, it took a special act of Congress to award him the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration available to an American soldier. Not until 2001 did Rubin receive that medal from President Bush, a true friend of the Jewish people.

     His service had been during the Korean war, a half century earlier. He had been denied the medal because he is Jewish. 150 other Jewish service men and women were also included in the 2001 law forcing the armed services to issue these medals to Jews. In all the years that the United States has fought wars, only 3,400 Medals of Honor have ever been awarded.

     Rubin was honored for this: He joined the army in 1950, having arrived shortly before from Hungary after years in a Nazi camp. Although he had broken his leg, he fought on crutches as part of Company I, 8th Cavalry Regiment. He literally hobbled into battle.

     In one battle he took a belt of grenades, ran through enemy front lines, and threw the grenades into enemy foxholes. During the fight in Korea he was repeatedly cited for “careless disregard for his own safety.” He alone fought thousands of Chinese while his batallion fled. He single handedly defended a hill, manning a machine gun for 24 hours. He fought all night and the next morning so that the three thousand members of the 8th Cavalry Regiment could withdraw.

     At  another occasion, he crawled 300 yards to an injured buddy while snipers shot at him in an effort to kill him. Tibor was given every dangerous assignment by a sergeant who told the troops that “if a Jew is wounded, leave him to the enemy.” The same sergeant, Artice Watson, refused to recommend Tibor for the Medal of Honor.

     Tibor was captured by the Chinese and kept a prisoner for two and one half years. Severely wounded, he nevertheless snuck out of the prison camp at night and raided enemy supplies for food and medicine for the American prisoners. He is credited with saving countless lives in the prison camp. The Chinese offered to release him if he would return to his native Hungary. He refused. Instead he stayed in the camp and helped the wounded and the sick.

     Rubin is a Holocaust survivor who spent years in the Mauthausen Nazi camp. Today he lives in California. He is eighty years old.

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including Women & Social Change in America (2009).

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