By COL Herb Rosenbleeth, USA (Ret)
National Executive Director
Past National Commander David Hymes was one of my heroes. As a combat veteran in World War II, he received a Purple Heart for wounds sustained in France. Hymes was a member of the Greatest Generation.
According to the U.S. Army Registry, in September of 1941, about three months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hymes entered the U.S. Army as a private at Ft. Warren, Wyoming. In January of 1942 he was assigned to Panama, serving there for ten months, and receiving promotions to both Corporal and then Sergeant. After going through a 90-day intensive Officer Candidate School, he received a commission as Second Lieutenant.
He was first assigned to an all-black transportation company in Shelbyville, Illinois, until black officers replaced the white ones. Then Hymes transferred to the Adjutant’s General Corps and traveled to England. Due to his prior civilian experiences, Hymes was assigned as the Postal Finance Officer for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy. Bonded for $500,000 and with nine men assigned to him, he landed at Omaha Beach in neck deep water, where he was strafed by German aircraft waiting to clear the beachhead. He set up operations in a 20-foot by 20-foot steel bar cage with the base post office in Cherbourg, France. While in France, Hymes was promoted to First Lieutenant.
Near the end of February 1945, Hymes was wounded. He was airlifted to England and placed in traction for 30 days. In England he was fitted with a special cast and transported back to the United States where he recuperated at Hines Hospital near Chicago. He was honorably discharged in February 1946.
Hymes was an enthusiastic supporter of JWV. Over the decades, he served in many positions on the local, state, and national levels. He always came to convention and to National Executive Committee meetings. He was always proud of the Department of Illinois and of Post 800 in Chicago. He was very, very proud of our current National Commander Jeff Sacks, who is from Chicago.
Hymes was a devoted, dedicated member of the National Museum of American Jewish Military History. He served on the Board of Directors and continually donated to the museum. He also would offer to match the donations of others, often significant amounts.
I remember going to Chicago some years ago for a meeting with Jewish organizations. Hymes was a wonderful host. He took me around to historical sites to meet with the Department Commander and with members of his post. Once we sat together on a bench in the National Museum of American Jewish Military History. We talked and laughed with each other for a long time while he told me a lot about his family and his life.
Hymes was 103 and it is my understanding that he was in good health. But COVID-19 got him. That awful virus is too much, especially for someone over 100.
Hymes was always a happy person. A generous, kind, wonderful person. As sad as we are that he passed away, we must all remember that he would have wanted us to enjoy this day, to socialize with each other, and to think good thoughts. That is how I most remember David Hymes.
Volume 75. Number 1. 2021