The Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center in Long Beach, California, has been renamed in honor of a Korean War hero, Tibor Rubin. The medical center will now be known as the Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center.
Rubin was a Holocaust survivor who joined the US Army after American soldiers rescued him in Austria. The Medical Center Director, Walt Dannenberg, says Rubin’s honors did not come until decades later. Rubin received the Medal of Freedom and two Purple Hearts for his service.
During one mission, according to the testimonies of his comrades, Rubin secured a needed route of retreat for his rifle company by single-handedly defending a hill for 24 hours against waves of North Korean soldiers.
At the 2005 Medal of Honor Ceremony for Rubin, President George W. Bush elaborated on the event.
“When Corporal Rubin’s battalion found itself ambushed by thousands of Chinese troops, the Americans’ firepower soon dwindled to a single machine gun. The weapon was in an exposed position and three soldiers had already died manning it. That was when Corporal Rubin stepped forward. He fought until his ammunition was gone. He was badly wounded, captured and sent to a P.O.W. camp.”
While a prisoner Rubin risked his life to sneak out of camp to gather food and medical supplies to bring back to his fellow soldiers. He spent 30 months as a prisoner of war in North Korea.
For this and other acts of bravery, Rubin was recommended four times for the Medal of Honor by two of his commanding officers. Both officers were killed in action shortly afterwards, but not before ordering Rubin’s sergeant to begin the necessary paperwork recommending Rubin for the Medal of Honor. Some of Rubin’s comrades were present and witnessed the order being issued, and all are convinced that Peyton deliberately ignored his orders. “I really believe, in my heart, that [the sergeant] would have jeopardized his own safety rather than assist in any way whatsoever in the awarding of the Medal of Honor to a person of Jewish descent”, wrote Corporal Harold Speakman in a notarized statement.
President George W. Bush ordered a review of the records of the Jewish veterans who were seen as having been denied medals that they probably deserved. Rubin was 76 when he finally received his award.
After the war Rubin settled in Orange County and Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, introduced legislation to rename the Long Beach VA medical center and it was signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2016.
Rubin died at age 86 on December 5, 2015.