Mauthausen Holocaust Survivor Tibor Rubin
Receives U.S. Medal of Honor
September 23, 2005
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Tibor [Ted] Rubin, a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor who as a U.S. soldier saved dozens of comrades in the Korean War, was awarded America's highest military honor on Friday by President George W. Bush.
Rubin, 76, was given the Medal of Honor for gallantry displayed as an Army corporal in the 1950-53 [Korean] war. It could have been bestowed five decades ago if not for a sergeant who his fellow soldiers described as an anti-Semite.
His comrades began campaigning for him in the 1980s.
"By repeatedly risking his own life to save others, Corporal Rubin exemplified the highest ideals of military service and fulfilled a pledge to give something back to the country that had given him his freedom," Bush said in a tearful White House East Room ceremony, with Rubin at his side.
Soldiers who served with Rubin have said he might have been honored soon after the war if not for a sergeant in their unit they described as an anti-Semite who refused to forward recommendations that Rubin get the award.
"As a Jew and a noncitizen serving in uniform, he had experienced prejudice in the Army," Bush said. "And he knew that the America he fought for did not always live up to its highest ideals. Yet he had enough trust in America's promise to see his commitment through."
At age 13, Rubin was condemned to the Mauthausen Nazi concentration camp in Austria and lost his parents and two sisters.
He was liberated from the camp by U.S. troops after two years, and came to America in 1948. Not yet a citizen, he volunteered for Army service and by July 1950 was on the front lines in Korea.
In one mission, Rubin single-handedly defended a hill for 24 hours under enemy fire, allowing his company to withdraw to safety.
In October 1950, the Chinese army spilled into North Korea and attacked U.S. troops. In an ensuing battle, many in his unit were slain, and a badly wounded Rubin was captured.
He spent 2-1/2 years in a brutal POW camp in which Americans faced starvation and illness. Rubin, steeled by experience in the Nazi camp, managed to swipe food from Chinese and North Korean depots and distributed it equally among his comrades, according to fellow soldiers.
The Army said Rubin's actions to get food and medical care saved the lives of 40 fellow soldiers.
© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.
Jewish veteran to receive Medal of Honor Tibor Rubin kept his promise to join the U.S. Army
after American troops freed him from the Mauthausen
concentration camp in Austria during World War II.
By Paul Chavez
September 19, 2005
LOS ANGELES -- Tibor Rubin kept his promise to join the U.S. Army after American troops freed him from the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria during World War II.
A Hungarian Jew, Rubin immigrated to New York after the war, joined the Army and fought as an infantryman in the Korean War. In 1951, Chinese troops captured Cpl. Rubin and other U.S. soldiers and he became a prisoner of war for 21Ž2 years.
More than five decades later, after a relentless campaign by grateful comrades and Jewish war veterans, President Bush on Sept. 23 will give Rubin the Medal of Honor.
"I was only staying alive to get that medal and now I'm going to enjoy it," said the 76-year-old Rubin, who now lives in Garden Grove.
He was nominated four times for the medal, the nation's highest recognition for bravery in battle. But some believe the paperwork was never submitted because a member of his chain of command discriminated against him for being Jewish and born in Hungary.
When he was at the Chinese prisoners' camp known as "Death Valley," Rubin said he would pray in Hebrew for the U.S. soldiers &emdash; about 40 each day &emdash; who died in the freezing weather. He also took care of soldiers suffering from dysentery or pneumonia.
Rubin, who goes by the name Ted, called concentration camp good "basic training" for being a POW and applied lifesaving lessons he learned there. For example, Rubin said he would retrieve maggots from the prisoners' latrine and apply them to the infected wounds of his comrades to remove gangrene.
Fellow POW Sgt. Leo Cormier said Rubin gave a lot of GIs the courage to live.
"I once saw him spend the whole night picking lice off a guy who didn't have the strength to lift his head," Cormier told the Army. "What man would do that? ... But Ted did things for his fellow men that made him a hero in my book."
As a POW, Rubin turned down repeated offers from the Chinese to be returned to his native Hungary.
"I told them I couldn't go back because I was in the U.S. Army and I wouldn't leave my American brothers because they needed me here," Rubin said.
Rubin wouldn't say anything negative about the Army and his long wait for the Medal of Honor. But in affidavits filed in support of Rubin's nomination, fellow soldiers said their sergeant was allegedly a vicious anti-Semite who gave Rubin dangerous assignments in hopes of getting him killed.
In 1988, the Jewish War Veterans of the United States urged Congress to recognize Rubin's efforts. And Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida introduced a bill in 2001 to force the Pentagon to review the records of Jewish veterans who may have been denied the Medal of Honor because they were Jews.
About 150 records remain under review, said Bob Zweiman, past national commander of the Jewish War Veterans.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Jewish Vet Gets Medal of Honor 55 Years On
By ERICA WERNER, AP
September 23, 2005
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A concentration camp survivor who joined the U.S. Army out of gratitude, fought in Korea and spent 2 1/2 years in a Chinese prisoner of war camp was awarded a Medal of Honor on Friday, 55 years after his heroism.
President Bush gave the nation's highest military honor to Hungarian-born Tibor Rubin, 76, in the White House East Room. The medal recognizes him for overcoming dangers as an infantryman, trying to save fellow soldiers in battle and as a prisoner of war, even as he faced prejudice because he was Jewish and a foreigner.
President Bush with Medal of Honor awardee, Cpl. Tibor Rubin, Friday, Sept. 23, 2005, in the East Room at the White House. A Hungarian Jew, Rubin immigrated to New York after the war, joined the Army and fought as an infantryman in the Korean War. In 1951, Chinese troops captured Cpl. Rubin and other U.S. soldiers and he became a prisoner of war for 2 1/2 years. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
"By repeatedly risking his own life to save others, Cpl. Rubin exemplified the highest ideals of military service and fulfilled a pledge to give something back to the country that had given him his freedom," Bush said.
The Hungarian-born Rubin, of Garden Grove, Calif., stood at Bush's side with his head slightly bowed and his hands clasped behind his back as the president extolled him, then fastened the gold medal around his neck.
"It's a wonderful, beautiful country. We are all very lucky," Rubin told reporters later.
When Rubin was just 13, he and his family were rounded up by the Nazis and taken to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. His parents and sister died at the hands of the Nazis but Rubin survived for 14 months. He was liberated by American GIs and vowed to join the U.S. Army if he ever made it to America.
After he came to this country and enlisted, he was quickly sent to Korea. There, Rubin's actions during battle and as a prisoner of war went beyond bravery to heroism, as Bush described them.
Assigned to defend a hill, Rubin single-handedly held off the enemy for 24 hours, inflicting casualties and allowing his own unit to withdraw safely. Later he was captured by the Chinese. During captivity, he risked his life to steal food for fellow prisoners, give them medical help and keep their morale up. He refused an offer from his captors to return to communist Hungary.
"Those who served with Ted speak of him as a soldier who gladly risked his own life for others," Bush said.
His acts of compassion came even though he suffered prejudice. The Army says Rubin's fellow soldiers and commanding officers recommended him for the Medal of Honor three times before, but the paperwork was not submitted because a member of his chain of command was believed to have discriminated against him.
Rubin has refused to say anything negative about the Army and his long wait for the Medal of Honor. But in affidavits filed in support of Rubin's nomination, fellow soldiers said their sergeant was an anti-Semite who gave Rubin dangerous assignments in hopes of getting him killed.
In 1988, the Jewish War Veterans of the United States urged Congress to recognize Rubin's efforts.
More than 3,400 Medals of Honor have been awarded since the decoration was created in 1861.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press