Illustration by Art Seiden

Jewish Heroes and Heroines in America

World War II to the Present:


Three Jewish Heroes of the Vietnam War

by Seymour "Sy" Brody

In the National Museum of American Jewish Military History in Washington D.C. there is an exhibit that makes a comparative examination of Jewish contributions to World War I and the Vietnam War. The exhibit compares three Jewish fighting men of each war. Roger Steven Briskin, Fred Zedeck, and Joseph Ira Goldstein are the heroes of the Vietnam War.

Briskin was a corporal in the United States Marines. He was born in 1947 and attended public school in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Briskin was a quiet and conscientious student who took things seriously. He had planned to become a medical doctor. When he graduated from high school, the Vietnam War was in progress. Briskin felt he had a responsibility to help his country. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He went through basic training and displayed leadership ability. It didn't take long before he was promoted to corporal. After Briskin was sent to Vietnam, his unit was immediately pressed into battle.

It was in the Da Nang Quong Nam Province, on March 31, 1967, when he was in the thick of a fierce battle with the enemy, that Briskin saw one of his men wounded by the mortar attack against them. While attempting to rescue him, Briskin was killed by mortar fragments. He was recognized for his bravery and was awarded many citations posthumously.

Captain Zedeck served with the U.S. Air Force. 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, in Korat, Thailand. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1946. He went to public schools and to New York University, from which he graduated in 1968. Zedeck was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Force. He earned his navigator wings in 1969 at the Mather Air Force Base in California, after he finished his flight training. Later, he was to be certified as an Air Force weapon systems officer on the F-4 Phantom fighter plane.

In the Southeast Asia area of operations, Zedeck flew 165 combat missions and logged more than 450 combat hours. His many decorations include the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with Ten Oak Leaf Clusters. He retired from the military as a colonel and had a productive career in the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Emergencv Operations. Zedeck and his wife provide a home for foster babies prior to their placement in a final foster home.

Lieutenant Joseph Ira Goldstein, U.S. Navy, Fighter Squadron VF154, was born in Roosevelt, New Jersey, in 1942. Goldstein graduated from Rutgers University in 1964. He enlisted in officers' training school in Pensacola, Florida, where he became a Naval flight officer. He was sent to Vietnam, where he flew about 110 combat missions. He received the Navy Unit Commendation Medal. the Vietnam Gallantry Cross, five air medals and other medals.

After the Vietnam NVar, Goldstein tauglit ROTC courses at the University of Michigan until 1971. He then went into government service in Washington, D.C.

Briskin, Zedeck and Goldstein are three of the thousands of Jews who fought for our country. Some died. Some were wounded. Some brought the mental scars of war back with them. Again, as in America's past wars, Jews responded to their country's call for fighting men.

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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