On Memorial Day
Recently, I was telling a dentist friend about BEN SALOMON (1914-1944), a Jewish dentist who posthumously won the Medal of Honor. Our conversation led me to find a Youtube video tribute to Salomon. Through this video, I learned a great deal more about Salomon. Last November, the American Friends of Dental Volunteers for Israel sponsored a lecture about Salomon’s life at the NYU School of Dentistry (AVI runs a free clinic in Jerusalem for poor kids of every background). I urge you to watch the 25-minute video, which is much better than my brief summary of Salomon’s incredible story. JACK JACOBS, 71, a retired Army colonel who won the Medal of Honor for gallantry in Vietnam, spoke at the Salomon tribute.
Salomon, a Wisconsin native, graduated from dental school in 1937. In 1940, he was drafted into the army during the first ever peace time draft. The army thought it had enough dentists already, so Salomon was sent to an infantry unit. He had a great aptitude for military tactics and weaponry and became very skilled with machine guns, etc. In 1942, with America at war, the Army decided they needed more dentists and ordered Salomon to transfer to the dental corps, where he would be an officer. He reluctantly had to comply.
In 1944, Capt. Salomon was sent to Saipan, where a fierce battle raged. He volunteered to be a front line surgeon and was sent to a field hospital. The Japanese, who were running out of ammunition, were ordered to attack the Americans in a final, all-out suicide attack. Solomon, alone, held them off as 30 injured soldiers were evacuated from the hospital. His body was found the next day, slumped over a machine gun. The bodies of 98 enemy soldiers, that he had killed, were found near his body. His Medal of Honor was not awarded until 2002 because of confusion about whether a “medic” could fight and time-limit regulations. They didn’t even give him a Purple Heart until 2002.
Jack Jacobs, too, has a short (11 minute) tribute video on Youtube in which he explains the events that won him the Medal of Honor. Watch it. Jacobs, who sometimes appears on NBC as a military expert, is very articulate and even funny on occasion (he told the Salomon audience that “Its lucky I’m short. Two inches taller and I’d have been dead [in combat]. Plus, I have a lesser carbon footprint.”)
Jacobs was serving as advisor to South Vietnamese troops in 1968. An informer in the South Vietnamese headquarters tipped-off the Viet Cong and Jacobs and other advisors, along with South Vietnamese troops, walked into a well-planned ambush. Jacobs was heavily wounded in the first moments of the ambush. His company commander and another American advisor were hit and near death.
Jacobs realized he had to take command and do what it took to get himself and the others out alive. At that moment, he said, a quotation from HILLEL raced through his mind: “If not you, who? If not now, when?”
He managed to save the lives of the two other Americans, as well as many allied soldiers. Alone, he dispersed several Viet Cong squads with well directed gunfire. (For Salomon video, enter in Youtube search box: “The Story of Captain Ben L. Salomon”; for Jacobs: “Jacobs Jack SD”).
Or click here:
Salomon Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTWQgpLuQnc
Worth Looking For--Make a Note
“The Wedding Plan,” an Israeli comedy/drama, stars NOA KOLER, 35, as Michal, a 30-something, Ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman who is jilted by her fiancé just 22 days before they take their vows. But instead of canceling the reception venue booked for the eighth day of Hanukkah, she trusts that fate in the form of the Almighty will provide a willing replacement and that the ceremony will go on.
Reviews have been excellent. Michal’s unexpected toughness and, yes, feminism, animates the film. She doesn’t wait for G-d to drop a new groom in her lap, but actively seeks one out. Still, she won’t settle for any guy. She bluntly turns down "unacceptable" men in a “speed dating” marathon and she even turns down a proposal from a famous Israeli pop singer who she meets near the Ukrainian grave of a famous Hasidic rabbi. The film ends with a happy and unexpected twist ending.
Look for “Plan” on Netflix and/or other premium services in a few months. It opened in New York and Los Angeles on May 12, but it’s unlikely it will open in a theater near you.