Post: North County Post 385

Military Service: U.S. Navy

Member Since: 1974

1. Where and when did you serve in the military?
I enlisted in the Navy in my hometown of Chicago under the delayed entry program in 1973 and reported to Naval Recruit Training Center in Orlando in May of 1974.

After boot camp, I was assigned to Naval Air Station, Memphis.
In Boot Camp, the detailer asked me what I wanted to do in the Navy. I thumbed through the ratings handbook and chose Torpedoman’s Mate. The detailer said angrily, “That’s not open to women yet, but I’ll send you to a base that has a torpedo shop where you learn on the job.”
So he sent me to a naval air station where there wasn’t a torpedo.

While at Memphis, I applied three times for Torpedo School. Twice my request came back, “Request Denied – Rating not open to women.”
Undiscouraged, I applied again and the third time was the charm. The woman Personnel man who had become my friend called me at the barracks. “Paula, you have orders,” she said excitedly, “You’re going to basic electricity school at Great Lakes and then TM school in Orlando.”
I became the third female Torpedoman’s Mate in the Navy.

After finishing my schools, I was sent to the Mark 37 wire guided submarine torpedo shop in Groton, Connecticut.
I stayed there until I re-enlisted for SUBROC school, becoming the first woman to receive this training and finished my enlistment as a TM2 (E5) at Naval Magazine, Guam.

Women were not on ships in my day. My assignments were at shore torpedo intermediate maintenance facilities.
I was always the only woman TM, so I constantly had to prove myself, but I was determined to earn the respect of my male peers. I worked hard and studied diligently for the advancement tests. Finally, when I made E4, I felt I was accepted and had proven to myself and the Navy that women could do anything!

2. Why did you join the military?
I loved military and naval history. The first non-fiction book I read was in 4th grade. It was “The Longest Day” about the D-Day Invasion. From then on, I was hooked. I knew I wanted to be sailor!

3. How did your Jewish faith impact your time in the service?
At Boot Camp, I attended Friday night Shabbat Services. A JWV member was there and signed us all up.

Upon orders to each new base, I contacted the local Jewish community center to find a rabbi and services. I kept Kosher as often as I could. The Jewish Welfare Board provided me with canned kosher food and anything I needed.

Two Jewish Chaplains crossed my paths, Rabbi Bruce Kahn at NAS Memphis and Rabbi Botnick at Great Lakes. They nurtured me, inspired me, and left an indelible spiritual treasury in my life.

4. Have you ever experienced anti-Semitism at home or abroad?
While in the Navy, a thief used to break into my locker and steal my kosher food, but that could have been a statement about my gender, not my ethnicity.

After the Navy, while attending New Mexico State University on the GI Bill, I formed a Hillel group to change the name of the yearbook, which was called Swastika, a supposed reference to Native Americans of the era, but totally unacceptable to us. Our local synagogue, JDL in Denver, and JWV joined us in our fight to change the name. I wrote an article for JWV about the struggle for an issue of “The Jewish Veteran.”

Several times throughout my 30 years of teaching high school history, students have written ethnic slurs and drawn swastikas in their notebooks. I designed a Holocaust course in my district to address this ignorance.

5. Why did you join JWV?
It was a safe and loving place to be Jewish!

6. How would you improve a current JWV program, or what type of program do you think JWV needs to add?
I have no idea which members of my shul in Pomona, CA are veterans. I would like to be able to swap sea stories. Maybe recruiting at synagogues would be good project. I would like to connect nationwide with other female JWV members.

7. What is your favorite Jewish food?
Challah. I am never without it on Shabbat!

By M. B. Kanis
The creation of cemeteries as a final location is as old as man-kind. The creation of Jewish Cemeteries is unique, as Jewish religious customs require that Jewish burial sites be held in reverence.

Recent documented incidents of desecration, vandalism, and failures to maintain multiple Jewish Cemeteries in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area, as well as occurrences in other cemeteries throughout the United States, prompted the following information in the desire to protect the deceased and provide context for the greater good.

What makes a Jewish Cemetery Jewish?
Establishing a cemetery is one of the first priorities for any Jewish community. According to Jewish tradition, Jewish burial grounds are sacred sites and must remain undisturbed in perpetuity.

A Jewish cemetery has physical boundaries that set the cemetery off from its surroundings, marking it holy for Jews. Inner reflection is often observed in a place of calm. A Jewish cemetery is considered consecrated ground where Jewish burial practices and customs are observed.

For Jews, a grave site is permanent and once established should not be violated.

The religious duty of burial is the responsibility of a decedent’s children or spouse. If there are no children or spouse, it is the responsibility of the closest relative. If no relatives, then the community. As time passes, it becomes the responsibility of those alive to respect the dead.

How are Veterans effected?
From the earliest sunrise of birth to the twilight last gleaming, members of the Jewish faith, first as volunteers, then as conscripted, and once again as volunteers, have served to protect and defend the United States. As veterans as well as citizens, the lives of people of the Jewish faith are intertwined with service to family and the community in many forms.

Our respect for our faith honorably distinguishes Jews as a guiding force during life and in repose. Over the millennia, the Jewish religion has codified customs and practices which we strive to live by out of respect for each other, the contributions each person has provided, no matter how small or far reaching. When our time on this earth ends, we as family, friends, or simply as strangers show a common dignity to provide a lasting resting place as a sign of remembrance for life.

According to the Family Research Organization, as of 2018 there were approximately 22,000 known dedicated Jewish Cemeteries, of the more than 145,000 graveyards and marked cemeteries in the United States, Territories and foreign U.S. managed sites.

With the aging population within America, there is also the aging of Jewish Cemeteries. More often in recent years, cemetery owners and operators are facing higher maintenance costs. Grounds appearance and paid perpetual care of individual and community grave sites are not maintained by a small percentage of operators.

Each of us, when visiting a deceased member or observing natural or wanton degradation, lack of maintenance, vandalism, or visible Anti-Semitic acts, have a duty and moral obligation to be vigilant, to say something, and to act to maintain the grounds of fellow Jews for the greater good of the whole community.

What do we look for in a Jewish Cemetery?
Different Jewish groups have different traditions about gravestones. Historically Ashkenazi Jews often have vertical gravestones and Sephardic Jews have horizontal stones. Sephardic stones often have angelic figures and biblical images, while images were not permitted on Ashkenazi stones.
In the modern era, both groups make frequent use of classic Jewish symbols: the Star of David, the Menorah, Tree of Life, the Book of Life, or a candle.

Historically, families that belonged to the priestly class (Kohanim), were forbidden to go inside the gates of a cemetery because that would violate laws of ritual purity. According to Arthur Kurzweil’s “From Generation to Generation,” their gravestones usually bear the symbol of two hands with thumbs touching and fingers spread out in a priestly blessing.

With a request, and at no charge to the applicant, the Department of Veterans Affairs furnishes a government headstone or marker for the grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of their date of death.

When purchasing a grave site, ensure the cemetery owner is bonded or provides proof of operating insurance. Upon research of the grave site to be chosen, look at the overall appearance, and the look of maintained graves and entry.

When purchasing perpetual care, determine if the people in charge of the perpetual fund are bonded or insured, which almost every state requires.
A perpetual fund is a separate bank account and/or lawful saving instrument, that is used as the principal fund for maintaining the property. Owners or operators may and often do use the interest earned from the perpetual fund to operate the overall function and appearance of the entire Jewish Cemetery while maintaining the appearance of individual grave sites paid for that eternity.

Owners may not spend the actual perpetual fund without lawful order.

What to do if you see degraded conditions or other serious lack of maintenance?
Call the cemetery owner, operator, or superintendent and politely voice your concern with specifics. Ask for action and an approximate date when the problem will be resolved. If the date for resolution is longer than a few weeks, and you haven’t seen any action taken, write a brief letter, addressed to the owner or operator confirming your earlier attempts and requesting reasonable action on their part. Anything placed in writing will serve as a dated proof of concern.

If no actions are observed and without a reasonable cause for the delay, your next step is to call your local appointed or elected Consumer Protection Representative, providing your details and documentation. If there is no Consumer Representative, call your local politicians with the same details.
On serious matters of overall neglect, a call or photograph to the local news station, newspaper, or regional Federation may also be useful. Anti-Semitic postings or other vandalism requires a call and or photograph to local law enforcement.

How do you maintain the implied right to review and provide service within Jewish Cemeteries?
Jewish veterans often have standing, which is a legal term indicating members of a local or regional Post have the implied right to maintain the site of the graves of buried veterans and often the related family members. By observing various legal holidays and other publicized events, Post members often can establish a rapport and standing within each Jewish Cemetery.

Often a stone or other veteran memorial erected within the property of the cemetery allows for standing. An act of Congress set aside a date before Memorial Day when individuals can place flags on veterans’ gravesites.

Armistice Day, now known as Veterans Day, is set aside as a day to honor living veterans and their families. While not an official act, family members and persons representing families of deceased veterans often place flags upon the grave sites.

MLK Day of Service is a day to provide meaningful actions to improve each community and educate citizens, often utilized to educate children and young adults as to the service provided by veterans. As an option, veteran grave sites are often cleaned or U.S. flags are placed as a sign of respect by the community.

It is an honor and mitzvah for veterans to remember each other for the sacrifice and service provided to the general public and to the Nation, that no others experience. Together we served and should be reposed forever in peace.

Volume 74. Number 3. 2020

By Cara Rinkoff
More than 215 members, associate members, and patrons registered for JWV’s 125th annual convention, which also happened to be the first virtual convention for our organization. The five-day convention, originally scheduled to take place in Jacksonville, Florida moved online due the coronavirus pandemic.

Due to the difficulties of holding votes online, the Convention Rules Committee approved a measure moving votes on all but the election of our new National Commander and Vice Commander to the next in-person convention.

The Opening Ceremony on Monday featured a video greeting from Secretary Robert Wilkie of the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is the second time Wilkie has appeared at a JWV National Convention, and he also spoke in-person at NEC in February 2020.

At our first business session, more than 100 members tuned in as the Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer joined us for a question and answer session. Dermer spoke about the recent diplomatic breakthrough between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, saying he believes this is only the beginning. He thinks other countries in the Middle East will find it vital to work with Israel in the near future. “I think to the extent that you have leaders in the Arab world who would like to propel their countries forward and to be a force for modernization, then I think working with Israel is very important.”

Dermer also spoke about how Israel is dealing with the current coronavirus pandemic. He and PNC Harvey Weiner made a friendly bet about which country will develop the first vaccine for COVID-19. If Israel develops it first, Weiner owes Dermer dinner, but if any other country has the first vaccine, Dermer will treat Weiner to dinner.

Our second business session featured attorney Amy Van Fossen. She discussed aid and attendance benefits, which is important because it “is tax free and can be used for a variety of purposes… the intent of the benefit is for medical expenses.” Fossen said a common misconception is that you cannot receive Medicaid and the aid and attendance benefit. You can find her slide presentation with more information on VA benefits and Fossen’s contact information in the convention section of our website at

Approximately 100 members also joined our third business session to hear a discussion on anti-Semitism with American Zionist Movement President Richard Heideman and U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr.

Heideman spoke about the rampant anti-Semitism Jews are experiencing around the world and right here in the United States. He said, “We have seen a reemergence of such hatred, such intolerance, such bigotry, such anti-Semitism, anti-Zionist, and Holocaust denial that we must go back and reanalyze where we went wrong. What did we miss in training our young people? What did we miss in sending messages to our community and I mean the community at large… How is it possible that anti-Semitism has become all too acceptable?”

The two men answered several questions from members, and Carr discussed the importance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and the importance of having countries accept the group’s definition of anti-Semitism. But in addition to just defining anti-Semitism, Carr said, “It [IHRA] goes on to provide examples, 11 of them to be precise, with an overarching additional example that provides a window into the contemporary manifestations of anti-Semitism.” He added, “One of my top diplomatic asks when I go overseas is that a country that hasn’t adopted it formally, adopt it. And we’ve had great successes as more and more countries are lining up to embrace the IHRA definition.”

Carr also noted that while it’s obvious the internet and social media did not cause today’s anti-Semitism, “It is carrying this contagion further and faster than we’ve ever seen before and it is one of the chief reasons we’re seeing anti-Semitism rise today.”

During the convention members also attended important committee meetings and participated in a leadership workshop. You can find information on what happened at those meetings in the Committee Reports section of this issue.

Finally, on Thursday, JWV elected its new National Commander and first-ever National Vice Commander. NC Jeffrey Sacks and NVC Alan Paley both addressed the more than 100 members who attended the session which included their election. Sacks announced his new appointees for positions including Chief of Staff and National Adjutant.

We hope to welcome all of you to our next convention in-person, which will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 15-20.

Volume 74. Number 3. 2020

By Harvey Weiner
How does one tell the incredible story of a Jewish-American Vietnam War hero so that it is believable?
Melvin “Mel” Lederman was born in Brooklyn, New York and lived in Brookline, Massachusetts at the time of his death in Vietnam.
He served in the U.S. Army from 1946 to 1948 in Alaska, where he contracted a virulent rash, leading to his being on partial disability. After his honorable discharge, he sought education under the G.I. Bill and earned a B.S. and a M.S. in Human Genetics from Michigan, an M.S. in physics from Yale, and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. After a series of residencies and fellowships, including a chief residency in a VA hospital, he became Chief of Thoracic Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1968, he was offered a surgery partnership in California. He seemed to be every Jewish mother’s dream!

Alas – not every Jewish mother’s dream! He was unmarried. He was a skydiver and a hunter. And, he turned down that job offer in California to join the Navy at age 40 and to volunteer to go to Vietnam.

In one of the letters he wrote from Vietnam, Lederman said, “Someone has to do the job of taking care of the kids, and it is obvious that I am it, so by conscience, I have been doing the best I know.”

Although he already satisfied his military obligation and was too old to be drafted, he joined the hospital ship USS Repose as a Lieutenant Commander. Before deployment he earned his jump winds at Fort Bragg.

While treating the wounded on the ship, Lederman realized the men were returning too late for any effective medical treatment to make a difference. He instead decided the best course of action was to treat the wounded on the battlefield. He started flying with the medivac helicopters and flew more than two dozen missions.

On at least one mission, he fought the enemy with his M-16. He was wounded on several occasions and received four Purple Hearts.
On one mission, he saved a wounded pilot’s life, but did not receive the Air Medal because he was not on flight status. I, along with many others in the Army, did not receive the Combat Infantry Badge because we were not assigned to an infantry position. However, there is now a Combat Action Badge for soldiers who engage in combat, but are not members of an infantry unit. Lederman was attached to HMM-364, known as the Purple Foxes, and he got nickname “Super Doc,” which he affixed to the naval identification tab on his flight jacket. He also went out on missions with the Navy Seals, but these unauthorized missions do not appear on his military record.

On November 29, 1969, shortly before his scheduled return to the U.S., Lederman was killed in action when his helicopter was shot down on a mission. It took 47 years for the Navy to award him a fourth Purple Heart, which they did in 2016. He was the only U.S. Navy doctor and the only Harvard Medical School graduate killed in Vietnam.

Two weeks before his death, Lederman was on a medivac mission in the Qui San mountain range northeast of Danang. A Cobra helicopter had been shot down and, under hostile fire, Lederman’s helicopter landed in an attempt to save the two pilots, who were believed to still be alive. Lederman and two others left their helicopter to search for the Cobra pilots, but found only their dead bodies. He helped bring them back to the helicopter, but then went back alone to the Cobra to retrieve their personal gear. The Cobra disintegrated moments after he left it. Upon his return to base, Lederman immediately counseled and treated one of the two other soldiers on that mission, who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

For that mission, Lederman and the two others were recommended for the Silver Star by the elite Squadron Awards Board. It appears this recommendation never reached the appropriate personnel at the Department of the Navy. As it has done in the past, will the JWV be of help?
Opposite the Massachusetts General Hospital is the Esplanade on the Charles River where the Boston Pops gives its annual Independence Day concert. The playing field there is named Lederman Park, where a monument in his memory is planned. However, more than $400,000 must be raised to fund the monument.

You can read more about Lederman and the memorial project at

Volume 74. Number 3. 2020

By Larry Jaser
The controversary over 10 military installations in the South being named after Confederate Officers continues to rage. The stories behind the people differ widely. Before the Civil War, most of the officers served valiantly in the U.S. Army and were decorated for bravery.
Some owned slaves and some did not. Read and decide for yourself if they are worthy of having an installation named for them.
In 2015 Brigadier General Malcolm Frost said, “Every Army installation is named for a soldier who holds a place in our military history.” He further explained that the historic names chosen “represent individuals, not causes or ideologies,” and that “it was done in the spirit of reconciliation, not division.”

1. Fort Hood, Texas
The official opening of Camp Hood took place on September 18, 1942. It is named for the commander of the Confederate Texas Brigade, General John Bell Hood. It was renamed Fort Hood in 1950. Today it is the largest Armored Post in the U.S. Army.
Gen. John Bell Hood was a Kentucky native and graduated from West Point in 1853.
In 1855, he served with the Second United States Cavalry in Jefferson Banks, Missouri. Hood received a citation for bravery and promotion to first lieutenant after an injury during a fight with Native Americans.
Hood resigned from the U.S. Army in April 1861 and became a first lieutenant of cavalry in the Confederate Army. He trained cavalry in Virginia before his promotion to Colonel. When his unit in Texas expanded to brigade strength, he received a promotion to brigadier general in 1862.
Hood fought in the Peninsula Campaign, the Second Battle of Bull Run, and after the Battle of Antietam he became the youngest major general in Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. His division also played a significant role in the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 where he suffered injuries. Hood eventually rejoined his unit to lead a charge during the Battle of Chickamauga, after which he became a lieutenant general for his bravery.
Despite having his leg amputated, he returned to the battlefield in 1864 to try to stop U.S. General Sherman’s march toward Atlanta. By July, Hood had become commander of the Army of Tennessee and fought Sherman’s forces under a temporary promotion to full general.
Hood was the youngest officer on either side of the Civil War to independently lead an army. He thought of himself as a career military man and did not personally hold slaves but admitted slavery was the main cause of the war.

2. Fort Benning, Georgia
At the request of the Columbus Rotary Club, the Army honored Brig. Gen. Henry Benning when it opened Camp Benning in 1918. It was renamed Fort Benning in 1922. In 2005, Fort Benning became the home of the U.S. Army Armor Center and School.
Benning led troops at the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Antietam, and the Battle of Gettysburg. Prior to the Civil War he practiced law and never served in the military.
Benning served as one of Georgia’s delegates to a convention of nine slaveholding states to determine the South’s course of action if slavery were banned in the western territories. While the resolutions of the convention helped lead to the Compromise of 1850, Benning introduced resolutions in Nashville that strongly defended slavery and supported a state’s right to secede.
At the 1861 secession convention, Benning said, “What was the reason that induced Georgia to take the step of secession? This reason may be summed up in one single proposition. It was a conviction, a deep conviction on the part of Georgia, that a separation from the North was the only thing that could prevent the abolition of her slavery… If things are allowed to go on as they are, it is certain that slavery is to be abolished. By the time the North shall have attained the power, the black race will be in a large majority, and then we will have black governors, black legislatures, black juries, black everything. Is it to be supposed that the white race will stand for that?”
After the war he returned to Columbus, Georgia, and his law practice.

3. Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Fort Bragg opened in 1918. The local chamber of commerce named the Fort after General Braxton Bragg, the only general from North Carolina during the Civil War. Since the U.S. Army was concerned with mobilizing troops for World War I, they just let locals choose the name. It is now home to the U.S. Army Forces Command, XVIII Airborne Corps, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, 82nd Airborne Division, and many other commands.
Bragg graduated 5th in a class of 50 at West Point in 1837 and served in the U.S. Army until 1856. Bragg was an American army officer during the Second Seminole War and Mexican American War, where his success made him a national hero.
He was also a slave owner before the start of the Civil War and owned a sugar plantation in Louisiana.
He joined the Confederacy and served as a general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
He was not popular with the Confederate troops and ended the war as a military adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Historians generally rate Bragg as one of the worst tacticians on either side during the war, and his losses were major contributors to the Confederate States of America’s (CSA) defeat.

4. Fort Lee, Virginia
General Robert E. Lee was a West Point graduate and the leader of the Confederate Army. The U.S. Army named Camp Lee after him on July 15, 1917 during the mobilization for World War I. In 1950 it was renamed Fort Lee. Today Fort Lee is home to the Combined Arms Support Command.
Lee served the U.S. Army for 32 years, distinguishing himself during the Mexican American War and as Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy.
He was President Abraham Lincoln’s first choice to lead the U.S. in the Civil War.
Instead, Lee joined the Confederacy when his home state, Virginia, seceded from the Union.
Lee took command of the Army of Northern Virginia in June 1862 during the Peninsula Campaign.
Historians generally agree that Lee was less enthusiastic about the cause than many of his fellow Southerners, but he did take command of the Confederate army. After the defeat, he spoke out in opposition to Confederate monuments, writing in 1869 that it is better, “not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife.”

5. Fort Polk, Louisiana
Camp Polk opened in 1941 and was named for Leonidas Polk, a West Point graduate, planter, slave owner, and Episcopal bishop who began the Civil War as a major general in the Confederate Army. It was renamed Fort Polk in 1955 and is now home to the Army’s Joint Readiness Training Center.
Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk was a North Carolina native. He had no previous military experience, other than his West Point education before the war. He died in action during the Battle of Atlanta in 1864.
Shortly after graduating West Point, Polk resigned his commission in the artillery to enter the Virginia Theological Seminary. Polk was the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana when the Civil War started. He resigned that position to become a major general for the Confederacy.
Polk commanded troops in the Battle of Shiloh, the Battle of Perryville, the Battle of Stones River, the Tullahoma Campaign, the Battle of Chickamauga, the Chattanooga Campaign, and the Atlanta Campaign.

6. Fort Gordon, Georgia
Camp Gordon, named for Lt. Gen. John Brown Gordon, a native Georgian, soldier, legislator, and businessman, opened in July 1941 as a World War II training camp for the 4th and 26th Infantry Divisions, and the 10th Armored Division. It became Fort Gordon in 1956. The facility is now home to the U.S. Army Signal Corps and Cyber Corps.
Gordon had zero military experience before the war. He became one of Robert E. Lee’s most trusted generals over the course of the war.
At the start of the war Gordon was elected captain of a company of mountaineers and displayed remarkable capabilities. He quickly climbed to brigadier general in 1862, major general in 1864, and lieutenant general in 1865.
A hero to Georgians at the age of just 33, Gordon returned to his home state and began to practice law. There are rumors that Gordon served as a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, but that was a different Gordon, George Washington Gordon, of Tennessee, who also served in the Confederate Army.
When the United Confederate Veterans organization formed in 1890, Gordon was made commander in chief, a position he occupied until his death. In his memoirs “Reminiscences of the Civil War,” published in 1903, Gordon admits slavery was the true spark that ignited the war.

7. Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia
Fort A.P. Hill is a training center which opened in 1941. All branches of the U.S. Armed Forces train there. It is named for Gen. Ambrose Powell Hill.
Ambrose Powell Hill graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1847. He served with an artillery unit during the Mexican American War as well as the Third Seminole War. In 1851 he was promoted to First Lieutenant. In 1855 he transferred to the U.S. Coastal Survey to work in the D.C. area while still holding a commission.
On March 1, 1861, Hill resigned from the U.S. Army and became the colonel of the 13th Virginia Infantry, commanding a unit at the Battle of First Manassas. On February 26, 1862, Hill received a promotion to brigadier general. Following the promotion, Hill served at the Battle of Williamsburg and during the Peninsula Campaign.
Hill was promoted to major general on May 26, 1862 and took command of the Thirds Corps after a promotion to Lieutenant General.
On April 2, 1865, Hill was killed during the Breakthrough at Petersburg.

8. Camp Beauregard, Louisiana
Camp Beauregard, named for Confederate Brigadier General Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard, opened in 1917 and today serves as a training facility for the Louisiana National Guard.
Beauregard was trained in military and civil engineering at West Point and served with distinction as an engineer officer in the Mexican American War.
Following a brief appointment as superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy in 1861, and after Louisiana seceded, he resigned from the United States Army and became the first brigadier general in the Confederate Army.
He is best known for his defense of the industrial city of Petersburg, Virginia from Union troops in June 1864.
Following his military career Beauregard returned to Louisiana. In the early days after the war, Beauregard displayed the same antipathy toward freed slaves that most of his fellow Confederate leaders had embraced, but by 1873 he’d had a change of heart and advocated for black civil and voting rights.
At a meeting between white and black leaders in Louisiana, Beauregard made a rousing speech in support of racial cooperation.

9. Fort Pickett, Virginia
Fort Pickett is a Virginia Army National Guard installation which first opened in 1941 as Camp Pickett and renamed Fort Pickett in 1974.
Maj. Gen. George Pickett was a Virginia native. After studying law in Illinois, he attended West Point, graduating in 1846. Pickett finished last in his class of 59.
He entered the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant and served during the Mexican American War. He returned from the war a hero after raising the American flag over a captured castle during the Battle of Chapultepec. Pickett also served on the Texas frontier, where he was promoted to captain.
Pickett resigned from the army shortly after Virginia seceded from the Union in April 1861 and started his Confederate service as a colonel in command of defenses on the Lower Rappahannock River.
By 1862, Pickett had earned a promotion to a brigade command under General James Longstreet. He served during the Peninsula Campaign until a severe injury forced him to leave the battlefield in June of that year.
After a promotion to major general, Pickett served in the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. He is best known for Pickett’s Charge, a massive frontal assault that ultimately failed.
At the end of the war, upon learning that he was being investigated for war crimes in North Carolina over the hanging of 22 former Confederate soldiers who shifted their allegiance to the Union, Pickett and his family fled to Canada. They returned to Virginia in 1866 after a letter of support from General Grant ended the investigation.

10. Fort Rucker, Alabama
Fort Rucker, named for Col. Edmund Rucker, opened in 1942, and serves as the primary training base for Army Aviation. He is the only Confederate below the rank of general officer with an Army facility named after him.
After a basic education Rucker moved to Nashville in 1853, working as railroad surveyor before becoming an engineer. He was the city engineer of Memphis during the late 1850s.
When the Civil War broke out Rucker enlisted in the Confederate States Army as a private in Pickett’s Tennessee Company of Sappers and Miners. Sent to Kentucky, he was promoted to lieutenant. On May 10, 1862 he was transferred and promoted to captain of Company C, 1st Tennessee Heavy Artillery.
Rucker was transferred to the cavalry with the rank of major and assigned to enforce conscription laws in East Tennessee.
In early 1863 Rucker was promoted to colonel and given command of the newly created 1st East Tennessee Legion.
In November Rucker was appointed acting brigadier general, but his commission was never confirmed by the Confederate Congress.
Rucker became far better known after the war as an Alabama industrialist who helped build the state’s substantial coal and steel industries.

Volume 74. Number 3. 2020

By Chaplain Lt. Col. Yaakov Bindell
New Jersey was one of the early states to get hit with the coronavirus. As the disease spread across the state, the New Jersey National Guard was swiftly called to action. As the State Command Chaplain of New Jersey, within just a few weeks, my job duties suddenly changed from training and developing chaplains, to leading chaplains through one of the biggest challenges this country has seen in over 100 years. I quickly organized groups of chaplains to go visit soldiers and airmen at COVID-19 testing sites, field hospitals, mortuary affairs operations, veteran homes, and long-term care facilities across the state. While I could share countless stories of heroism during the early stages of the pandemic, I feel most inspired by how our service members helped their fellow veterans during the pandemic.

During the early stages of the pandemic, there were many deaths at veteran homes across the state. While soldiers tried to help in any way they could, seeing our state’s heroes make their last stand in the face of COVID-19 took a heavy toll on the soldiers assigned to the homes. In order to make sure the veterans who died during this tough time were properly honored, several soldiers working in a dementia unit called Old Glory provided flags in honor of the veterans.

But these soldiers and airmen didn’t just go out of their way to make sure the dead received their due honor, they also provided assistance for the living veterans at the homes. At the beginning of the pandemic, for safety reasons, visitors were not allowed to see their family members in person. After several lonely months of not being able to see their family and relatives, veterans were finally given a special day when they would be allowed to see family, albeit only from a window. This day was hugely important for the veterans. Until then, their companions were their adopted military helpers and staff. Despite only being able to see family members through a thick window barrier, soldiers and airmen stepped up to make it the best experience possible. They helped veterans communicate with their families by making sure all cell phones were ready and that windows were clean so residents could see their family members clearly. You could feel the excitement of that momentous day from the firsthand account of one chaplain. “This mission was so encouraging to the soldiers and airmen. It was like they were walking on air. And for good reason! The event wasn’t scheduled to take place until the end of the day, but the whole day was full of excitement and preparation.”

The connection between service member and veteran has always been strong but this pandemic has brought us even closer than we could have imagined. For instance, when Memorial Day arrived after months of little human contact, the ceremonies held at the veterans homes were powerful and emotional events for service members and veterans alike. As military members and veterans, we remember the dead and fallen every year, but this year is different. We have lost so many heroes to COVID-19. However, the virus has not only taken our veterans. Many others have died in this most unusual and surreal war. Something that makes this war different than the wars we as service members are used to is that non-service members and family members are in just as much danger as the servicemembers themselves.

I have also been impacted by the deaths this war has caused. The morning I was asked to write this article, I found out the mother of a soldier had passed away. By noon that same day, I had to make a shiva call to a friend of mine whose father had passed away. That evening I got a call that a cousin of mine had passed away. It has been a tremendously difficult year of death and sickness. I hope and pray that the Jewish New Year brings health and recovery to our great nation. The High Holidays are almost upon us. This year, let us pray for life and good health. And at this year’s Yizkor service, let us remember and honor those who have left us. Shana Tova and may you all be inscribed in the Book of Life.

Volume 74. Number 3. 2020

By Ben Kane
“About Face: Jewish Refugees in the Armed Forces,” is a documentary that tells the stories of Jewish men and women who left their homes and families to flee the persecution of the Nazi government. These immigrants then went on to join the military in their new homes, both to prove they could be good citizens to their new country, and to restore peace to their homelands.

The film begins by describing life for the average Jew under the Nazi regime. The film does an excellent job exploring life before the Holocaust. It shows that the number of dead was massive, but the dead were more than just a number. Those who were left behind were people. People like us, with fears, aspirations, and people who loved them. It explores how neighbors became enemies, and how the state used divisive rhetoric to split the country apart. Its usage of primary source documents including interviews with service members, recorded speeches from Holocaust survivors, as well as an interview with Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum, makes it a solid educational resource.

One anecdote that stands out involves a Jewish family accosted by Nazi brownshirts at a park. The family told the inquiring Nazis they were Jewish, as was required, and so the family was harassed, brought to the Danube, told to face the river, and told that anyone who turned around would be shot. The Nazis then left. This mock execution, understandably, did a fairly good job convincing those caught up in them to leave Germany. But leaving was not so simple.

The film then briefly mentions the prerequisite in some countries that in order to relocate individuals needed a relative to vouch for their character and agree to take them in. Those who tried to leave also faced an exorbitant tax. Fleeing Germany would have meant they had to start life in their homeland nearly destitute. Those who were able to leave had to consider their futures carefully. Many chose to pursue professions that could be useful anywhere, like plumbers, cooks, and carpenters.

In November 1938, Kristallnacht took place, marking a turning point in Nazi policy towards Jews. Previously, the Germans mainly sent political prisoners to concentration camps, but that changed with the arrest and imprisonment of 30,000 Jews during Kristallnacht. Jews could only leave if their families began the paperwork to flee the country, leaving their money, their home, and their former lives behind. Many fled to Israel, then British-owned Palestine, inspired by the possibility of creating their own country.

The documentary mentions the often overlooked, but historically interesting Evian Conference. The Evian Conference was a gathering of the future allied powers to determine which countries would agree to take in more Jewish refugees. Only the Dominican Republic agreed to raise their quota. The governments of the world knew of the plight of the Jews, but virtually none of them cared enough to act in any meaningful way in defense of the oppressed.

War broke out shortly thereafter and prevented many from fleeing the country. Those who fled Germany for a nearby country sometimes found themselves back in the Reich, as their new homes were invaded and captured within a matter of months or a few years.

“About Face” does not shy away from death, nor should it. It shows the corpses in concentration camps and an example of an execution of a group of Jews. It’s not detrimental, but it is something for educators to keep in mind when showing this to their students.

The documentary goes on to explain how immigrants were labeled in their new countries as enemy aliens and possible spies. The United States interned many immigrants, including Jews who fled persecution.

Once the war broke out, immigrants were allowed to enlist. They looked forward to combat, to avenging their homelands, to be placed on the fast track towards citizenship, and to prove to their new homes they would be dedicated to their country. One interviewee made the poignant remark that he joined the fight because he knew someone would take his place if he didn’t sign up, and that person could be married or otherwise important, and could be killed, and so shouldn’t go.

Joining the military did not free Jewish service members from anti-Semitism. Jews were often placed only in certain jobs, and received criticism when they tried to place themselves away from the so-called “Jewish Army”. Interestingly, a Captain who made a disparaging remark to a Jewish immigrant service member apologized for it that same day, a rare occurrence. One commanding officer, unaware of the misery of being a Jew in Germany, pulled aside one of the service members to ask for an honest answer to a “tough” question- “would they be willing to fight against the country of their birth?” The question was answered, to the CO’s surprise, with laughter.

Some immigrant service members were required to change their European identities to prevent needless harm if captured, especially if they were going to be dressed as Germans and sent behind enemy lines. Some would try and hold on to their family heritage in their own ways, but argued little against shedding the things that had and would continue to make them targets of persecution.

Towards the end, “About Face” recounts the heroic amphibious invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, in which Jewish immigrants fought alongside non-Jews, with many dying on the beaches on their way to liberate their homelands. Jewish immigrant service members made good use of their knowledge of the local languages, often providing invaluable information as translators, interrogators, and spies.

Lastly, the film explores the liberation of the concentration camps. Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissman Klein recounts the beautiful moment that unfolded between her and her liberator. Instinctively, she informed her rescuer that she was Jewish, expecting some form of hostility in return. To her surprise, he paused to collect his thoughts, then said “I am too.”

It’s these anecdotes that perfectly relay the crucial role Jewish immigrant service members played during World War II. This documentary can be enjoyed by any WWII buff, and would also serve as a good resource for educators to use to explore the impact of Jewish immigrant service members on the war effort.

“About Face” will be released later this year.

Volume 74. Number 3. 2020