Thursday, September 22, 2005

The recognition of a hero.

The NY Sun carries a terrific story on its front page today -- The Long Ballad of Tibor 'Ted' Rubin:



On the evening of October 30, 1950, in the dark, early days of the Cold War, Red Chinese forces mounted a massive nighttime assault on American troops at Unsan, North Korea. As overwhelming numbers of communist soldiers attacked Americans throughout the night and into the next day, a rifleman with the Army's 8th Cavalry Regiment took up a 30-caliber machine gun at the south end of his unit's line, following in the footsteps of three other soldiers - all of whom had been killed at the post.

When the rest of the American troops were told to withdraw, the rifleman never received the order, and continued "steadfastly manning" the machine gun until his ammunition was exhausted, according to Army records. The brave soldier's "determined stand" single-handedly slowed the advance of the enemy in his sector, allowing the remnants of his unit to retreat southward, and to safety.

Fifty-five years later, the valor of the rifleman, Tibor "Ted" Rubin, is finally being recognized. On Friday, Corporal Rubin, who served in Korea from July 23, 1950, to April 20, 1953, will receive America's highest military accolade, the Medal of Honor, from President Bush in a White House ceremony.


Corporal Rubin, a survivor of the Mauthausen death camp, enlisted in the U.S. Army to, as he says, "express my appreciation to the United States - to the people who liberated us."

In addition to surviving Mauthausen, he survived internment as a prisoner of war by the North Koreans, where, ironically and somewhat tragically, his experience at Mauthausen served him well:



When his fellow soldiers, devastated by dysentery, could no longer muster the will to eat, Corporal Rubin force-fed them. When his fellow soldiers were filthy and injured, he bathed them and cleansed their wounds. When his fellow soldiers were infested with lice, he picked the parasites out of their hair. According to prisoners' accounts, when one soldier was wounded in the shoulder and infection set in, Corporal Rubin, recalling lessons learned at Mauthausen, jumped into the latrine to fetch maggots. He washed off the larvae and set them on the injured soldier's gangrenous flesh, leaving them to eat away the infection and removing them before they attacked the healthy skin - saving the soldier's arm, and his life.


I can't understand why it took so long for this man to receive the Medal of Honor, but I am overjoyed that he is finally receiving it.

UPDATE: The U.S. Army's site for Medal of Honor winner Corporal Tibor "Ted" Rubin is located here.

Further Update: Interestingly, the Army News Service press release about the award contains the following paragraphs:

Rubin was nominated for the MOH four times by grateful comrades. Fellow
Soldiers say Rubin might have received the medal five decades ago if not for a
sergeant who failed to forward recommendations because of Rubin’s Jewish and
Hungarian heritage.

Rubin’s award is being made under the National Defense Authorization Act
for Fiscal Year 2002, Section 552. The act called upon the secretaries of each
military department to review the service records of both Jewish and Hispanic
American war veterans to see if they should have been awarded the MOH. Rubin’s
case was accelerated because of the wealth of eyewitness statements,
Congressional support and because earlier recommendations on his behalf did not
receive due priority.

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