Major General Melvin L. Krulewitch:
A Hero in World War I and
World War II
by Seymour "Sy" Brody
Major General Melvin I. Krulewitch was born on November 11, 1895. He was 22 years old when President Wilson committed the United States to World War I. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as a private.
It was at Belleau Wood, in France, in June, 1918, his unit was under an intense German shelling, including mustard gas. There were only 11 survivors left out 200 men. Krulewitch took charge as the highest ranking soldier left in his unit.
It was on his 23rd birthday, the morning prior to November 11, 1918, that he led a successful charge against the Germans, who were dug in on a hill. The enemy had fired an artillery shell into the charging Marines, which failed to explode.
After World War I, he returned to civilian life to raise a family. He graduated college with a law degree and established a successful law practice.
When Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps as an officer. In World War II the Japanese propaganda featured the myth that their fighting men are never taken as prisoners. The purpose was to create an illusion that they were invincible. Major General Melvin Krulewitch, the highest-ranking Jewish officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, was one of the first to destroy that myth. He personally captured Japanese prisoners in one of his engagements. Major General Krulewitch was the first to fly the American flag on Japanese territory.
Fighting in World War II to defend America from its enemies was nothing new to Major General Krulewitch. He fought the Japanese in the South Pacific Theater of Operation. When the American Flag was flown over Mount Suribachi, on Iwo Jima, he was there leading a support group into action.
Major General Krulewitch was awarded the Bronze Star with Clusters, the Purple Heart, a Presidential Unit Citation and the Naval Unit Citation. He also received a Special Commendation Ribbon of the Secretary of the Navy. During the Korean War, he was sent on special assignment,
When the nation of Israel was born, they needed skilled military officers to instruct and develop its fledgling army, Major General Krulewitch joined other World War II Jewish heroes in going there to be of service.
He was involved in politics and he became the boxing czar for most of Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s two terms. He uncovered managerial manipulation of the Swedish heavyweight champ, Ingemar Johansson. Krulewitch also refused a New York boxing license to Sonny Liston, a leading contendor for the heavyweight championship, because of his ties to the mob.
Krulewitch was well literate: He wrote a book and, in 1972, he addressed a French audience in French commemorating the 54th anniversary of the Marines heroic stand at Belleau Wood.
Major General Melvin I. Krulewitch died on May 25, 1978, in New York City, New York.
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