Illustration by Art Seiden

Jewish Heroes and Heroines in America

1900 to World War II:

Jewish Officers Who Led The Way With Acts Of Bravery In World War I

by Seymour "Sy" Brody

Major General Milton J. Foreman of the Illinois National Guard received the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery while serving as a colonel in France. When his unit came under heavy artillery and machine gun fire, he crept through the German gunfire, laying out telephone wire so that he could tell his artillery where the enemy had its gun positions. Foreman found the enemy gun positions and directed his artillery to lay down a barrage of shells to destroy them.

General Foreman was one of the organizers of the American Legion and he was elected chairman of its executive committee at the Paris Caucus, at which he represented Illinois. During the Legion's third national convention in 1921, he was designated a past national commander by resolution.

Brigadier General Abel Davis was recognized for his valor and leadership when he was a colonel in the 132nd Illinois Infantry in France. He left a very successful career as a banker when he enlisted to fight in World War I. His initial military experiences started when he enlisted to fight in the Spanish-American War as a private. When he was mustered out after the war, he retumed to Chicago and started his career in banking.

General Davis was the leader of the 132nd Illinois Infantry Regiment that was involved in many battles. They encountered and fought the Germans at Amiens, Meuse-Argonne and at St. Hilaire. It was at St. Hilaire that Davis displayed his leadership and courage. Davis repulsed the enemy again and again, exposing himself to enemy gunfire while directing his regiment. He received the Distinguished Service Cross and the ribbon of an officer of the French Legion of Honor for his bravery.

Lieutenant Benjamin B. Prager was recognized for his heroism when he was a first sergeant in Company E, III th Infantry Regiment, 28th Division. It was at Le Chateau Diable near Fismes on August 11, 1918, that his outfit became pinned down by a German machine gun nest.

Prager took a squad of his men and they started to work their way to a house on the hill. The German machine gun kept firing at them and Prager ordered his men to remain behind as he and another soldier advanced toward the house. When they reached the house, Prager exposed himself to enemy fire to locate the position of the German machine gun. He and his men were able to capture the German soldiers and destroy the machine gun. Prager was recognized for his heroism and was promoted to lieutenant.

The finest tribute paid to the Jewish fighting men in World War I was given by General John J. Pershing: "When The time came to serve their country under arms, no class of people served with more patriotism or with higher motives than the young Jews who volunteered or were drafted and went overseas with our other young Americans to fight an enemy."

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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