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Raymond Zussman

(1917 - 1944)

Raymond Zussman was a Jewish American soldier who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his valor during World War II.

Zussman was born July 23, 1917 in in Hamtramck, Michigan and joined the U.S. Army from Detroit, Michigan in September 1941. As a boy, Zussman sang in his synagogue’s choir. He attended Central School in Detroit. A boy of small stature, Zussman joined the high school football team despite his coach's skepticism. After graduating from high school, Zussman joined Teamsters Local 337 in Detroit, eventually rising to the position of shop steward at his place of employment. Zussman spent one year of college at Wayne State University and also took night classes in metallurgy.

By 1944, Zussman was serving as a second lieutenant, commanding tanks of the 756th Tank Battalion. On September 12, 1944, during a battle in the city of Noroy-le-Bourg, France, Zussman repeatedly went forward alone to scout enemy positions and exposed himself to enemy fire while directing his tank's action. Under Zussman's heroic and inspiring leadership, eighteen enemy were killed and ninety-two were captured. He survived the battle but was killed in combat nine days later on September 21, 1944.

On May 24, 1945, Zussman was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the United States' highest military decoration, for his actions at Noroy-le-Bourg. His citation reads:

On 12 September 1944, 2d Lt. Zussman was in command of 2 tanks operating with an infantry company in the attack on enemy forces occupying the town of Noroy le Bourg, France. At 7 p.m., his command tank bogged down. Throughout the ensuing action, armed only with a carbine, he reconnoitered alone on foot far in advance of his remaining tank and the infantry. Returning only from time to time to designate targets, he directed the action of the tank and turned over to the infantry the numerous German soldiers he had caused to surrender. He located a road block and directed his tanks to destroy it. Fully exposed to fire from enemy positions only 50 yards distant, he stood by his tank directing its fire. Three Germans were killed and 8 surrendered. Again he walked before his tank, leading it against an enemy-held group of houses, machine gun and small arms fire kicking up dust at his feet. The tank fire broke the resistance and 20 enemy surrendered. Going forward again alone he passed an enemy-occupied house from which Germans fired on him and threw grenades in his path. After a brief fire fight, he signaled his tank to come up and fire on the house. Eleven German soldiers were killed and 15 surrendered. Going on alone, he disappeared around a street corner. The fire of his carbine could be heard and in a few minutes he reappeared driving 30 prisoners before him. Under 2d Lt. Zussman's heroic and inspiring leadership, 18 enemy soldiers were killed and 92 captured.

Zussman was buried at Machpelah Cemetery in Ferndale, Michigan.

Sources: Jewish Recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, compiled by Seymour "Sy" Brody;
“Raymond Zussman,” Wikipedia.