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June 01, 1990 - Image 44

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-06-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

LOOKING BACK

Cart Sk Chair

by Jay Spectre

Jewish Vietnam Hero
Gives Lie To Slander

RABBI LEONARD WINOGRAD

Special to The Jewish News

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hortly after I came to
my new pulpit in
1969, I was called to
officiate at the funeral and
burial of a young man who
had been killed in action in
Vietnam.
He had been assigned to an
Arvin unit and had learned
to love the Vietnamese
peasants with whom he
worked. He had taken his
task quite to heart and had
learned to speak the lang-
uage of the country, which
brought him even closer to
the people.
While on patrol, his unit
had become involved in a
firelight and suffered heavy
casualties although he,
himself, had not been
wounded. A helicopter was
sent in to rescue the sur-
vivors, and he was safely
aboard that rescue aircraft
when he noticed a Viet-
namese soldier whom he had
assumed to be dead. The
Man was moving and ob-
viously still alive.
Without regard for his own
safety, he ordered the
helicopter pilot to return to
the ground and he left it to
run under fire to the wound-
ed man. Then he picked him
up on to his own back to
carry him to the helicopter.
While doing so, he was killed
by enemy fire. The man
whom he had given his life
to save was not known to
him, but the villagers were
so impressed that they
erected a monument to the
young American's memory.
He was Captain Michael
Arnovitz of McKeesport, Pa.,
and he left behind a beau-
tiful young widow and an in-
fant son whom he had never
seen.
When I met with the grief-
stricken parents, I asked
them how they had gotten
along with Mike while he
was still alive. The boy's
father answered, "Mike was
a square. How can a father
not love a square? He always
did the right thing, was
always polite and hard-
working. He wanted to serve
his country. That is why he
had gone to military school
at Valley Forge. And he
really wanted to help the
people of Vietnam." He was

Rabbi Leonard Winograd is a
retired rabbi living in Pitt-
sburgh.

in his early 20s when he
died.
There are enough unsung
Jewish heros of all of our
wars to fill a number of
books. Would that the right
people would read them.
It was only a few years
after the Spanish-American
War that a Jewish veteran of
that conflict was riding on a
train, when he heard two ig-
norant men discussing quite
loudly that Jews always
managed to stay out of the
service. He conceived the
idea of a Jewish War Veter-
ans organization whose very
existence would inform the
innocently ignorant that
there were indeed Jewish

The simple visit to
the bedside of a
hospitalized
veteran indicates
that the Jewish
community has not
forgotten them.

veterans. Little could he
have dreamed that one day
our JWV would sponsor a
home for Israeli veterans in
Israel.
The coming of another
Memorial Day finds the
loyal JWV members out in
the cemeteries of the nation
— the Jewish cemeteries and
the non-Jewish cemeteries
— looking for the final res-
ting places of Jews who had
served in the armed forces,
so that they can decorate the
graves with JWV markers.
While this may seem to be
a far cry from the original
purpose of the organization,
it does, at least for those
gentiles who happen to
notice the markers, spare
them from believing the
kind of slander that is still to
be heard out of earshot of the
nearest Jew.
When a Jewish Veterans
Post marches in the com-
munity Memorial Day or
Veterans Day parades, it is
doing valuable anti- defama-
tion work merely by its
presence.
Of course, our veterans do
other important things, but
the result is still the same.
When an active JWV post
makes its weekly visitation
to the nearby Veterans Ad-
ministration Hospital, and
gives gifts to the patients
and conducts bingo or other
social events for all the pa-
tients, it is doing that same
vital work of anti-bigotry
protection.,

.

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