Illustration by Art Seiden

Jewish Heroes and Heroines in America

1900 to World War II:

Yet More Jewish Servicemen Became World War I Heroes

by Seymour "Sy" Brody

Corporal Louis Abend was one of the youngest seasoned soldiers in the United States Army when America became involved in World War 1. He was 15 when he enlisted in the Army and gained experience on the Mexican border against the banditos. He was 18 years old when America entered World War I and he was shipped to France to fight.

He was a member of Company M, 28th Infantry, when it attacked the Germans at Cantigny on May 28, 1918. There were heavy casualties on both sides. With all of the officers in his outfit killed or badly wounded, Corporal Abend took command and his men repulsed three counter-attacks. His battalion captured the town, taking 800 German prisoners. Corporal Abend received the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery and leadership.

In another engagement at Somme, he received the Croix de Guerre from General Petain for saving the life of a French officer despite a wound to his left hand. Corporal Abend was transferred to General Pershing's regiment, and later served with the Army of Occupation.

Sergeant Benjamin Shapiro, member of Company A, 104th Infantry, 26th Division, was involved in many heroic episodes. His exploits earned him the Croix de Guerre and other decorations. It was during an engagement with the Germans that Shapiro was wounded and sent to a base hospital. He was discharged in time to rejoin his company, where he played an important role in getting his outfit to advance.

In another engagement in the Argonne Forest, his company was ordered to clear an area of machine gun nests, a task that proved more difficult then the men had figured. Spotting a machine gun nest, Sergeant Shapiro jumped into the shell-hole, capturing one German soldier and killing the rest.

The citation for Shapiro's act of bravery read: "A brave and daring non-commissioned officer, who, on October 16, 1918, in the Bois de Beaumont, attacked a machine gun nest alone and captured the piece after having killed the gunners."

One of the great stories in World War I was that of the "Lost Battalion" of the 77th Division and how Private Abraham Krotoshinsky saved the day. It was November 2, 1918, in the Argonne Forest, that his battalion found itself in trouble. His commander, Colonel Whittlesey, had led the battalion into the forest to clear out the German machine guns. The enemy backed up, leading the Americans to believe that the Germans were on the run. However, the Germans led the Americans into their own territory and encircled them.

Private Krotoshinsky and another soldier were sent out to make contact with their division. As soon as the two started out, the other man was killed. Private Krotoshinsky slowly made his way through the German lines to his division, which moved forward to save the "Lost Batallion."

This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included in Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.

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