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World War II: Statistics on Jewish American Soldiers

  • During the course of World War II, 550,000 Jewish men and women served in the armed forces of the United States. (Another 1 million Jews served in other Allied forces - 500,000 in the Soviet Army, 100,000 in Polish Military and 30,000 in British Army.)
  • Jewish servicemembers accounted for 4.23 percent of all soldiers in the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • About 60 percent of all Jewish physicians in the United States under 45 years of age served in the military.
  • 22 Jews attained senior rank in the armed forces - 18 generals, 6 major generals, 12 brigadier generals,1 vice admiral, 2 rear admirals and 1 commodore.
  • The total number of Jewish war casualties was 38,338 - 11,000 were killed, 7,000 of which occured in combat.
  • Approximately 26,000 Jewish men and women in uniform received citations for valor and merit. The number of awards totaled 49,315, including 66 Distinguished Service Crosses, 28 Navy Crosses, 41 Distinguished Service Medals, 244 Legions of Merit, 1,434 Silver Stars, 2,047 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 191 Soldier's Medals, 28 Navy and Marine Corps Medals, 4,641 Bronze Star Medals, 13,212 Air Medals and 14,550 Purple Hearts.
  • 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.”

Sources: Bureau of War Records cited in AJHS Newsletter (Fall/Winter 2003); Yad Vashem; Associated Press (May 5, 2013); Jewish Recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor