American Jews Serve in World War II

by Seymour "Sy" Brody


When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the United States declared war on Japan and Germany, American Jewish men and women responded to their country's call for the armed forces. More than 550,000 served in the Armed Forces of the United States during World War II. About 11,000 were killed and more than 40,000 were wounded. There were three recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, 157 received the Distinguished Service Medal and Crosses, which included Navy Crosses, and 1,600 were awarded the Silver Star. About 50,242 other decorations. citations and awards were given to Jewish heroes for a total of 52,000 decorations.

Jews were 3.3 percent of the total American population but they were 4.23 percent of the Armed Forces. About 60 percent of all Jewish physicians in the United States under 45 years of age were in service uniforms.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt praised the fighting abilities and service of Jewish men and women. General Douglas MacArthur in one of his speeches said, “I am proud to join in saluting the memory of fallen American heroes of Jewish faith.” At the 50th National Memorial Service conducted by the Jewish War Veterans of the United States, General A. A. Vandergrift, Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps, said, “Americans of Jewish faith in the Marine Corps have served with distinction throughout the prosecution of this war. During the past year, many Jewish fighting men in our armed forces have given their lives in the cause of freedom. With profound sympathy and respect, I join you in paying homage to them at this memorial service.”


Source: Jewish Recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

This exhibit was prepared by Seymour "Sy" Brody, of Delray Beach, Florida, editor of the Jewish War Veteran's The Jewish Veteran, and author of Jewish Heroes of America and its sequel, Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America, © 1996.