Obama inks bill naming hospital after Jewish veteran
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Obama inks bill naming hospital after Jewish veteran

Korean War hero Tibor Rubin, Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor, waited 55 years for recognition long-ago delayed by anti-Semitism

Tibor Rubin wearing a Medal of honor he received at the White House in 2005. (Public domain/Wikipedia)
Tibor Rubin wearing a Medal of honor he received at the White House in 2005. (Public domain/Wikipedia)

LOS ANGELES — Among his last official acts, outgoing President Barack Obama has signed a bill affixing the name of Tibor Rubin to the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Long Beach, California.

Rubin, a Hungarian-born child survivor of the Holocaust, had to wait 55 years until his valor in the Korean War was recognized with the award of the nation’s highest military decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Since then, national and local organizations have been vying to atone for the long-time neglect by conferring honors and recognition on the Garden Grove, California, resident, continuing even after his death in 2015 at the age of 86.

These include the issuance of a US postage stamp bearing his likeness; the full-scale biography “Single Handed”; inclusion in a documentary on American Jewish wartime heroes; and renaming of the Garden Grove Public Library as well as a Jewish War Veterans chapter in his honor.

US President Barack Obama waves as he wraps up a year-end press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, December 16, 2016. (AFP/Zach Gibson)
US President Barack Obama waves as he wraps up a year-end press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, December 16, 2016. (AFP/Zach Gibson)

Rubin was sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp at 13 and when he was liberated by American troops 14 months later he vowed to join the US army if and when he ever got to America.

He succeeded in his plans, joined the army just before the start of the Korean War in 1950, and was assigned to the 8th Cavalry Regiment. Among other feats, he secured a route of retreat for his company by single-handedly defending a hill for 24 hours against waves of North Korean soldiers.

His commanding officers recommended Rubin three times for the Medal of Honor, but the necessary paper chain to Washington was sabotaged by his company’s 1st Sergeant, Artice V. Watson, a fanatical anti-Semite.

Rubin combined a thick Hungarian accent with a sharp – often self-deprecating – wit.

When he embarked on his trip to meet with president George Bush, he was assigned an honor guard, which led to the following observation: “When I came to this country, people called me a little Hungarian schmuck. But that has all changed. Now they call me MISTER Shmuck.”

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