P.F.C. Charles Feuereisen's unit in the 511th Parachute Infantry Division had a fierce battle with the Japanese in 1945 in Leyte, Philippines, during World War II. The unit overran the enemy and captured many of them.
In a dead Japanese officer's briefcase, a map of California with Japanese site marks for their invasion was found by the unit. Feuereisen and P.F.C. Ralph Merisiecki were assigned to take the map back to the 11th Airborne headquarters near Buraueng. They delivered the document and proceeded to Tacioban, where General Douglas MacArthur had established his headquarters and where they were to get an airlift back to their unit. "Ralph, we'll never get this close to General MacArthur again," Feuereisen said to his friend, "Why don't we visit him?"
Merisiecki thought that Feuereisen was crazy, but he decided to go along with him. They came to the Price House, where MacArthur had his headquarters. It was full of bullet and shrapnel marks. The two worked their way through a maze of officers and reporters, finally reaching Lieutenant Colonel Roger 0. Egeberg, the supreme commander's physician and aide, and explained their purpose for being there.
Before long, MacArthur appeared and warmly greeted them with a smile and handshake. He took them into his private office to talk about the military actions of the 11th Airborne paratroopers. Feuereisen was surprised to find how much information the general knew about his outfit. MacArthur spent about 10 minutes talking with them. Before leaving, Feuerelsen asked him why the paratroopers were not jumping behind the enemy lines. MacArthur assured him that they would be jumping soon.
Feuereisen made 38 jumps with the 511th Parachute Infantry Division. He joined the division in 1942 and rose through the ranks to become a sergeant. He led a patrol to find the enemy on April 6, 1945, in Lipa, Philippines. As the patrol members proceeded, a booby trap went off, killing the lead man. Feuereisen was wounded by a sniper in the back of the neck, paralyzing his legs and his left arm. He was hospitalized for nine months before he was able to overcome the paralysis.
Feuereisen received many decorations, including the Silver Star Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal and the Asiatic Pacific Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters.
He was born on May 18, 1918, in New York City, to Regina, nee Fuchs, and Henry Feuereisen. His mother had emigrated from Vienna and his father came from Cracow. Feuereisen's father was in the grocery store business. His young son learned the skills that he used to make a living in the food industry.
After Feuereisen's release from the service, he became involved with veterans organizations. His first love was the Jewish War Veterans (JWV) of the USA. He worked hard and held many JWV chairs.
At the JWV convention in August, 1968, Feuereien was elected to be the national commander for one year. Feuereisen has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Jewish War Veterans Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. He says he feels that this museum, located in the heart of the nation's capital, is a beacon that reminds America that Jews have served, fought and died for their country from colonial days to the present.
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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