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First Name: Tibor

Last Name: Rubin

Birthplace: Paszto, HUN

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Chicago, IL

Date of Birth: 18 June 1929

Rank: Corporal

Years Served: 1950 - 1953
Tibor Rubin

•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


Tibor "Ted" Rubin
Corporal, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Korean War

Tibor "Ted" Rubin (born 18 June 1929) is a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor who immigrated to the United States in 1948 and received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Korean War by President George W. Bush on 23 September 2005. Rubin is a resident of Garden Grove, CA.

Rubin was repeatedly nominated for various medals and awards, but was overlooked because of anti-Semitism by a superior: according to the Washington Post, "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."

Childhood in Hungary

Tibor "Ted" Rubin was born on 18 June 1929, in Pásztó, a Hungarian town with a Jewish population of 120 families. He was the son of a shoemaker and one of six children. At age 13, he was transported to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria and liberated two years later by American troops. Both his parents and two of his sisters perished in the Holocaust.

Immigration to the United States

Rubin came to the United States in 1948, settled in New York and worked first as a shoemaker and then as a butcher.

In 1949, he tried to enlist in the U.S. Army, both as an assumed shortcut to citizenship and, he hoped, to attend the Army's butcher school in Chicago. Knowing hardly any English, he failed the language test, but tried again in 1950 and passed, with some judicious help from two fellow test-takers.

Anti-Semitism in the Army

By July of that year, Private First Class Rubin found himself fighting on the frontlines in Korea with I Company, Eighth Regiment, First Cavalry Division. There he encountered Sergeant Artice V. Watson, an anti-Semite who consistently "volunteered" Rubin for the most dangerous patrols and missions. This was attested to by lengthy affidavits submitted by nearly a dozen men who served under him, mostly self-described "country boys" from the South and Midwest.

On one such mission, according to the testimonies of his comrades, Rubin secured a route of retreat for his company by single-handedly defending a hill for 24 hours against waves of North Korean soldiers. For this and other acts of bravery, Rubin was three times recommended for the Medal of Honor by two of his commanding officers. Both were killed in action shortly after, but not before ordering Watson to begin the necessary paperwork to secure the medals for Rubin. Some of Rubin's fellow GIs were present when Watson was so ordered, and all are convinced that he deliberately ignored the orders. "I really believe, in my heart, that First Sergeant Watson would have jeopardized his own safety rather than assist in any way whatsoever in the awarding of the medal to a person of Jewish descent," wrote Corporal Harold Speakman in a notarized affidavit.

Chinese POW Camp

Toward the end of October 1950, massive Chinese troop concentrations crossed the border into North Korea and attacked the unprepared Americans. After most of his regiment had been wiped out, the severely wounded Rubin was captured and spent the next 30 months in a prisoner of war camp.

Faced with constant hunger, filth and disease, most of the GIs simply gave up. "No one wanted to help anyone. Everybody was for himself," wrote Sergeant Leo A. Cormier Jr., a fellow prisoner.

The exception was Rubin. Almost every evening, he would sneak out of the camp to steal food from Chinese and North Korean supply depots, knowing that he would be shot if caught. "He shared the food evenly among the GIs," Cormier wrote. "He also took care of us, nursed us, carried us to the latrine... He did many good deeds, which he told us were mitzvahs in the Jewish tradition... He was a very religious Jew and helping his fellow men was the most important thing to him." The survivors of the camp credited Rubin with keeping them alive.

Rubin refused his captors' repeated offers of repatriation to Hungary, by then behind the Iron Curtain.

Medal of Honor

Rank and Organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Company I, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division

Place and date: Republic of Korea, 23 July 1950-20 April 1953


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Corporal Tibor Rubin distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism during the period from 23 July 1950 to 20 April 1953, while serving as a rifleman with Company I, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division in the Republic of Korea. While his unit was retreating to the Pusan Perimeter, Corporal Rubin was assigned to stay behind to keep open the vital Taegu-Pusan Road link used by his withdrawing unit. During the ensuing battle, overwhelming numbers of North Korean troops assaulted a hill defended solely by Corporal Rubin. He inflicted a staggering number of casualties on the attacking force during his personal 24-hour battle, single-handedly slowing the enemy advance and allowing the 8th Cavalry Regiment to complete its withdrawal successfully. Following the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, the 8th Cavalry Regiment proceeded northward and advanced into North Korea. During the advance, he helped capture several hundred North Korean soldiers. On 30 October 1950, Chinese forces attacked his unit at Unsan, North Korea, during a massive nighttime assault. That night and throughout the next day, he manned a .30 caliber machine gun at the south end of the unit's line after three previous gunners became casualties. He continued to man his machine gun until his ammunition was exhausted. His determined stand slowed the pace of the enemy advance in his sector, permitting the remnants of his unit to retreat southward. As the battle raged, Corporal Rubin was severely wounded and captured by the Chinese. Choosing to remain in the prison camp despite offers from the Chinese to return him to his native Hungary, Corporal Rubin disregarded his own personal safety and immediately began sneaking out of the camp at night in search of food for his comrades. Breaking into enemy food storehouses and gardens, he risked certain torture or death if caught. Corporal Rubin provided not only food to the starving Soldiers, but also desperately needed medical care and moral support for the sick and wounded of the POW camp. His brave, selfless efforts were directly attributed to saving the lives of as many as forty of his fellow prisoners.

On 23 September 2005, former U.S. Army Corporal Tibor Rubin finally received his Medal of Honor. It was awarded in the East Room of the White House and was presented by President George W. Bush with the First Lady, Laura Bush, present. Details of the presentation ceremony are included below.

Other Medals

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Rubin was awarded the Purple Heart.

Jewish Veterans

The Jewish War Veterans Act (officially the Leonard Kravitz Jewish War Veterans Act of 2001, after another Jewish Army veteran in the Korean War, and uncle and namesake of Lenny Kravitz) established a review of Medal of Honor nominations for servicemen of the Jewish faith or extraction whose nominations may have been derailed because of anti-semitism.

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 23, 2005

President Presents Medal of Honor to Corporal Tibor "Ted" Rubin
The East Room

2:45 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Laura and I welcome you to the White House. This is a special occasion for our nation. We're here to pay tribute to a soldier with an extraordinary devotion to his brothers in arms, and an unshakeable love for his adopted homeland of America.

Corporal Tibor "Ted" Rubin's many acts of courage during the Korean War saved the lives of hundreds of his fellow soldiers. In the heat of battle, he inspired his comrades with his fearlessness. And amid the inhumanity of a Chinese prisoner of war camp, he gave them hope. Some of those soldiers are here today, and they have never forgotten what they owe this man. And by awarding the Medal of Honor to Corporal Rubin today, the United States acknowledges a debt that time has not diminished.

It's our honor to welcome Ted's wife, Yvonne; daughter, Rosie -- a 2nd grade teacher, I might add -- (laughter) -- Frank and Lai, welcome. Glad you all are here.

Mr. Vice President, thank you for coming. Mr. Secretary, we're proud you're here. I appreciate Senator John Warner, the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee; Congressman Robert Wexler, of Florida -- welcome. Thank you for being here. Former Congressman Ben Gilman and Georgia are with us. Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey; Pete Geren, acting Secretary of the Air Force; "Admiral G," Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is with us. General Pete Schoomaker, Chief of Staff of the United States Army. And, Rabbi, thank you very much for your blessings.

I want to thank Ambassador Andras Simonyi, the Ambassador of Hungary to the United States, for joining us -- proud you're here. Yes. (Laughter.)

So honored to have the four Medal of Honor recipients with us: Barney Barnum, with the United States Marines; Al Rascon, the Army; Bob Foley, the Army; and Jack Jacobs, of the Army. Proud you're here. Thanks for being here.

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for bravery that a President can bestow. It is given for acts of valor that no superior could rightly order a soldier to perform. And that is what we mean by "above and beyond the call of duty." 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.

Born in Hungary in 1929, Ted and his family were rounded up by the Nazis and taken to concentration camps when he was just 13 years old. He was taken to Mauthausen Camp in Austria, where an SS officer told the prisoner, "You, Jews, none of you will ever make it out of here alive." And many did not. Before the war was over, both of Ted's parents and one of his sisters were lost in the Holocaust. Ted Rubin survived the camp for 14 months, long enough to be liberated by U.S. Army troops on May the 5th, 1945.

These American GIs gave Ted his first real taste of freedom. Their compassion for the people in the camp made a deep impression on this teenage survivor. It was his first experience with soldiers who were fighting to protect human life. That day Ted made a promise to himself, if he ever made it to America, he would show his appreciation to this great land by enlisting in the United States Army. He did move to America after the war, and the young immigrant made good on his pledge. Even though he was not yet a citizen, he volunteered to serve his new nation in uniform, and seven months after taking the oath of a U.S. soldier, he was sent to Korea.

The conditions were brutal, the fighting was intense, and the bitter cold was unrelenting. And it was in these grueling circumstances that Corporal Rubin impressed his fellow soldiers in the 1st Cav Division as one of the best ever to wear our nation's uniform.

Those who served with Ted speak of him as a soldier of great skill and courage. One night near the Pusan Perimeter, Corporal Rubin had been assigned to hold a hill that was essential to the 3rd Battalion safe withdrawal. For 24 hours this lone rifleman would defend the hill against an overwhelming number of North Korean forces. By his actions Corporal Rubin inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy, saved the lives of countless soldiers, and gave the unit time to withdraw.

Those who served with Ted speak of him as a soldier who gladly risked his own life for others. When Corporal Rubin's battalion found itself ambushed by thousands of Chinese troops, the Americans' firepower soon dwindled to a single machine gun. The weapon was in an exposed position and three soldiers had already died manning it. That was when Corporal Rubin stepped forward. He fought until his ammunition was gone. He was badly wounded, captured and sent to a POW camp. He risked his life that day to protect his fellow American soldiers, and his heroism helped many of them escape.

Those who served with Ted speak of him as a soldier whose many acts of compassion helped his fellow GIs survive the nightmare of imprisonment. As a teenager, Ted had taught himself how to survive the horrors of a Nazi death camp. He was resourceful, courageous, and unusually strong. And in Korea, he drew on these qualities to help keep many of his POWs alive. Whenever he could, at the risk of certain execution, Corporal Rubin would sneak out and steal food rations from the guards, and then he shared them with his fellow soldiers. Throughout this ordeal he nursed those who were sick back to health, and said the Kaddish prayers for those he buried.

And when his captives offered to release him to Communist Hungary, with the guarantee of a good job and nice clothes and plenty of food, Corporal Rubin refused. He said, "I was in the U.S. Army, and I wouldn't leave my American brothers because they need me here." Ted's decision was in character.

As a Jew and non-citizen serving in uniform, he had experienced prejudice in the Army. 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. He saw it as his personal duty to live up to our nation's promise, and by doing so he set an example of what it means to be an American.

Many heroes are remembered in monuments of stone. The monuments to Corporal Rubin are a legacy of life. We see his legacy in the many American families whose husbands, fathers, and sons returned home safely because of his efforts. We see his legacy in the free and democratic South Korea that grew on the soil of his sacrifice. And we see his legacy in a new generation of American men and women in uniform who were inspired to their own acts of courage and compassion.

Today, we remember the mother, father and sister that Corporal Rubin lost to an unspeakable evil. We admire the determination of a young man who sought to repay his American liberators by following in their footsteps, and we recall the selfless acts that gave his comrades strength and hope in their darkest hours.

In the years since Abraham Lincoln signed into law the bill establishing the Medal of Honor, we have had many eloquent tributes to what this medal represents. I like Ted's description. He calls it "the highest honor of the best country in the world." And today, a grateful America bestows this award on a true son of liberty.

I now ask the Military Aide to read the citation. (Applause.)

(The citation is read. The medal is presented.) (Applause.)

END 2:58 P.M. EDT

Honoree ID: 1230   Created by: MHOH




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