1. When and why did you serve in the military?

Back in 1993 I was twenty years old, working full-time as a cashier in a major supermarket while also going to school full-time. When I lost my job, I lost my means to pay for my education. So, I set out to find my next work opportunity. I happened upon a recruiting office for the New Jersey Army National Guard, already somewhat aware of the monetary benefits. Three days later I was swearing in. I left for Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, SC two months after that, followed by Advanced Individual Training in Fort Gordon, GA. The lifestyle fit me so well that when I became eligible, I transferred into the Regular Army, never looking back.

  1. How did you get introduced to JWV?

When I was stationed at Ft Monmouth, NJ, someone made me aware. I don’t remember the conversation or circumstances.

  1. What is a program that JWV offers, in which you would like to be more involved with, and why?

I am definitely focusing my time on increasing membership. I’m using my platform to improve relations with the local JROTC programs, supporting the US Navy Sea Cadet Corps (USNSCC) Training Division NAS Richmond, and advertising with social media and actual shaking hands with folks.

  1. What is an American tradition that makes you the proudest?

Seeing our National Colors flying in the local communities, where it is not a requirement but a choice.

  1. What is the best military Jewish holiday story you got?

Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, 2007. As the Jewish Lay Leader, my Company Commander was able to secure everything we needed for Passover services, including some Manischewitz. He led the seder, we all embraced the significance of the moment, and finished off the wine.

  1. What is your favorite movie about the military? Did it relate with your experience in the military?

I don’t have a “favorite” military movie, I don’t enjoy them as I once did. But the last military movie I watched was American Sniper, and it was pretty spot on. Definitely relatable to my time in Iraq.

  1. What song gets you pumped up for a work out?

My workout playlist contains Chevelle, System of a Down, Avenged Sevenfold, a few others. Depending on what exercise I’m about to perform determines how much motivation I really need.

Volume 72. Number 3. Fall 2018

Member: Samuel Yudin

Post: Post 786

Current Residence: Long Beach, CA

Military Service: Iraq and Afghanistan

Member Since Year: 2018

  1. When and why did you serve in the military?

My decision to join the military is a long, complicated story centered on many chance encounters and a confluence of events and ideas.  While in college, I was curious about learning anything I could and reexamining all that I had come to know especially when it came to my Judaism.  I was reading, among other things, anything by Phillip Roth and Leon Uris.  The stark contrast of Jewish masculinity depicted did not sit well with me and I wanted to be a nice but tough Jew.  While studying in Germany I worked as a bartender on a US Army base and learned about the military language school which made me think that I could pursue one of my intellectual passions while serving so I could become that nice tough Jew.

  1. What was a special moment for you serving in the military?

In my almost 19 years serving so far there have been many special moments.  Each graduation of a special military school, competition, or each promotion are always memorable.  Every training exercise, mission, or deployment suffering in the inclement weather in some godawful place with your buddies is a special moment we all share which bonds us together like no civilian will ever know.  Out of all those special moments the most memorable was being promoted in a ceremony in front of friends and family by my friend and hero, Holocaust survivor, and Medal of Honor recipient Corporal Tibor Rubin.

  1. How did you get introduced to JWV?

When I first got back home from Active Duty I was curious to find other Jews like me who could understand where I was coming from.  I was told about JWV but was told it was just a bunch of old guys sitting around who did not want youngsters around.  I joined the Reserves and then the Guard but kept moving around so did not get involved.  Then a few years ago Corporal Tibor Rubin’s daughter Rosie told me I needed to meet Greg Lee the CA JWV Commander.  Greg got me energized to be part of JWV which has in turn got a group of several of us currently still serving to join JWV.

  1. What national issues are you interested in seeing JWV to fight for?

I am uneasy about organizations, especially Jewish ones, creeping outside their mission statements because that alienates some people they are supposed to represent.  I am interested in the JWV advocating for Jewish veterans, veterans in general, and getting the positive message of Jewish service out there.

  1. What displays of patriotism makes you the proudest?

My definition of patriotism differs from most.  I believe the best display of patriotism is living your life with the values and ideals that this country was founded on.  It is the same way I look at Judaism.  If I wave the flag and chant USA but am a miserable human being not living a life of American values than I am not patriotic.  I am proud of my Judaism and my country but I could have just as easily been born to different parents in a different country.  What I can choose is how I live my life.  Some of the most patriotic Americans I know are my Vietnamese and Cambodian friends.  They love this country because it saved their lives and they embody American values in how they live with love of liberty, freedom, and responsibility.

  1. What is the best military Jewish holiday story you got?

Chanukah in Korea is a reoccurring theme. I spent the one in 2003 on a hill top surrounded by North Korea on three sides.  It happened to be Christmas so they flew the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders up in a Blackhawk so got a nice picture with my menorah, my officers and all of them.  Arranging a Passover Seder in Kosovo two years ago was another great success.

  1. What is your favorite Adam Sandler movie?

I would have to go early Adam Sandler, so anything in the 90s; Airheads, Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, or Waterboy.