Illustration by Art Seiden

Jewish Heroes and Heroines in America

from Colonial Times to 1900:


Three Unknown Jewish Military Heroes

by Seymour "Sy" Brody

For personal and other reasons, many Jews fought and died for the United States in combat using other than their birth names. Many of them received the nation's highest award, the Congressional Medal of Honor. At the present time, research has revealed that sixteen Jews have received this prestigious award and that there are others that could be uncovered. Simon Suhler was one of those heroes who used other names in the Army. In fact, he enlisted in the Army many times, always using another name. He used his mother's maiden name, Newstattel, when he enlisted in the New York Heavy Artillery on June 9, 1863. When the Civil War ended, he was discharged on September 26, 1865.

He used the name Charles Gardner when he went to San Francisco, Califomia, to enlist in the 8th Cavalry on October 15, 1866. He was sent to fight the Apaches in Arizona where his bravery eamed him the Congressional Medal of Honor. Suhler's citation commends him "...for his bravery in scouts and actions." He was recommended promotion to second lieutenant, but never joined the officer rank.

Simon Suhler was bom in Bavaria in 1884. He emigrated to the United States around 1860. His military career ended on September 6, 1878. His brother, Aaron, was the first Reformed Rabbi of Dallas, Fort Worth and Waco, Texas.

Another veteran of the Indian Campaigns and a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient was George Geiger. He was a sergeant in Company H, 7th United States Cavalry. There is very little known of him except for his bravery as recorded in the records of the military and that he was Jewish.

It was on June 25, 1876, at the Little Big Horn River, Montana, that a very fierce battle took place between the Indians and his cavalry unit. His citation reads: "George Geiger with his three comrades during the entire engagement courageously held a position that secured the water for the command." The medal was issued on October 5, 1878.

Samuel Marguiles enlisted in the United States Marine Corps using the name of Samuel Gross. He was serving with a detachment of Marines aboard the U.S.S. CONNECTICUT. They were sent to Haiti because of the turmoil that was taking place there.

There had been a revolution in January 1915, in Haiti. General Vilbrun Guillaume Sam became the new leader. His regime was brutal. He executed 167 political prisoners in July 1915. The people rose in revolt and overthrew the government, executing General Sam, on July 28. On that same day, President Wilson ordered the Marines to land to restore order and to protect American lives and property.

The problem of the Caco Bandits still existed with the new government. It was on November 17, 1915, Gross and other Marines attacked Fort Riviere, an old French fort, to cut off the avenues of retreat for the Caco bandits. There was a breach in the wall, which was the only entrance into the fort. Gross was the second man to pass through the breach in face of constant fire from the bandits.

The casualties were high; the Marines engaged the enemy in hand- to-hand combat. After ten minutes of fierce fighting, the Caco bandits were defeated. Samuel Marguiles (Samuel Gross) was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery. Born on May 9, 1891, he died on September 13, 1934. He is buried in the Har Nebo Cem- etery in Philadelphia.

These three Jewish heroes proved that even in small campaigns one can still be courageous and brave when fighting for our country.

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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