September 22, 2005
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Medal of Honor - U.S. Army |
Compiled by DefenseWatch Staff
Sometimes it takes an Act of Congress to get something done. Korean War veteran, Holocaust survivor, and remarkable hero Tibor Rubin knows that. More than fourteen years after Congress said he deserved the Medal of Honor and five decades after he was a soldier Rubin, now 76, will on September 23 receive the nation's highest decoration for valor from President George W. Bush.
Rubin's struggle to receive the recognition he deserves was no easy fight in itself. Nothing has ever come easy for the Hungarian refugee. Known as "Tibi" or "Ted" by his friends, Rubin joined the U.S. Army after surviving the Nazi death camps in World War II. In 1988, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), at the urging of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States, introduced a special bill on Rubin's behalf to force the Army to look into his valorous conduct. Three years later former California Representative Robert Dornan pleaded with his colleagues in the House for recognition of his constituent. In 2001 U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida introduced a bill to force the Pentagon to review the records of veterans who may have been denied the Medal of Honor because they were Jews. Only then did the Pentagon move to act on the behalf of one of this nation's great heroes.
Rubin (L.) was born in Paszto, Hungary, one of six children of a shoemaker. During the German's effort to wipe out Hungary's Jews in 1943 the 13-year-old child was transported to the infamous Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria where his parents and two sisters perished. Rubin was liberated two years later by American troops. He came to the United States in 1948.
In 1950, after learning enough English to pass the Army's entrance examinations Rubin joined the cavalry just in time for the Korean War. A few months later he was Private First Class Rubin fighting on the frontlines of Korea with I Company, 8th Regiment, First Cavalry Division.
According to lengthy affidavits submitted by nearly a dozen men in Rubin's company, the Hungarian volunteer found himself under the thumb of one First Sgt. Artice Watson, a soldier who consistently "volunteered" Rubin for the most dangerous patrols and missions, according to official Army reports. Rubin's bravery fighting during the chaotic early month of the conflict earned Rubin two commendations for the Medal by two commanding officers that were later killed in action, but not before ordering Watson to complete the paper work to secure the Medal of Honor for Rubin.
In one such mission, according to the testimonies of his comrades, Rubin secured a route of retreat for his company by single-handedly defending a hill for 24 hours against waves of North Korean soldiers.
Nothing came of the officer's recommendations. Affidavits filed in support of Rubin that were written years later revealed Watson was allegedly a vicious anti-Semite who instead gave Rubin dangerous assignments in hopes of getting him killed. When the Chinese intervened in October, 1950 Rubin's regiment was wiped out and Rubin, severely wounded, was captured. He spent the next 30 months in a prisoner-of-war camp
Survivors of the prison camp where Rubin was caged credited him with keeping several dozen men alive. In affidavits submitted to the Army after their release they recommended him for the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star, the Army's investigation showed.
Faced with constant hunger, filth and disease, most of the GIs simply gave up. "No one wanted to help anyone. Everybody was for himself," wrote Sgt. Leo A, Cormier Jr., a fellow prisoner.
Rubin was a rare exception, according to the soldiers whose lives he saved. Almost every evening he would sneak steal food from the Chinese and North Korean supply depots, knowing that he would be shot if caught, the affiants stated.
Despite his heroic actions and the recommendations of dozens of soldiers, Rubin received nothing from the Army but his discharge!
For some 30 years after his seperation from active duty, Rubin and his wife Yvonne, herself a Dutch Holocaust survivor, lived quietly in Garden Grove, Calif. raising two children until Congress acted, the Army moved, and Rubin was recommended for the Medal of Honor, nation's highest award for bravery.
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