Tibor Rubin was a Hungarian-born Jewish badass warmongering asskicker who survived a Chinese prison camp, a Nazi concentration camp, single-handedly defended a hill against the entire North Korean army TWICE, was nominated for the Medal of Honor four times, received it once, and lived to tell the tale.
In the process he single-handedly saved the lives of 40 of his fellow comrades by breaking out of a hardcore Chinese POW camp, raiding their barracks and stores for food and medical equipment, breaking back in to the prison camp, and then administering it to wounded and starving American troops. Which would be impressive if he'd only done it one time in his entire life.
Instead he repeated that routine almost every single day for roughly a year and a half, full knowing that being caught just one time or making just one mistake would result in him being thrown into a dark hole and tortured to death in the most excruciatingly painful ways the Chinese Communist torture-farmers could imagine.
Born in Hungary in 1929, Tibor Rubin's father was a shoemaker who'd also just so happened to be a war hero in World War I who had fought on the Eastern Front and survived six years in a Russian Gulag POW camp. Despite fighting in the Austro-Hungarian Army as an ally of the German Empire, Mr. Rubin's Jewishness apparently outweighed his patriotism, and when Adolf Hitler came rolling up in 1943 with his Final Solution the entire Rubin family was sent to Auschwitz. It's quite honestly beyond the scope of a website comprised primarily of history-based dick jokes to get into what went on there, but it was bad. Tibor Rubin's father, sister, and mother did not make it out alive, and Tibor himself, only 13 when he was taken, was forced to endure 14 grueling months after being transferred to Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria.
When the horrific death camp was liberated by American soldiers in 1945, 15 year-old Tibor Rubin swore from that moment on he would repay the United States for getting him out of there.
It took Rubin 3 years to get to the states, and he immediately attempted to enlist in the United States Army. He was denied because he failed the English test. So he learned English, tried again in 1950, was accepted, went to boot camp, and was immediately shipped out to South Korea to fight and die for his new country.
Rubin was happy to do it.
Serving with the 1st Cavalry Division, "Ted" Rubin was a front-line soldier in the early days of the Korean War, back when wave after wave after wave of fanatical North Korean communists, supported by the Chinese, came flying across the 38th parallel and started laying waste to American-supported Democratic South Korea. The Americans and Koreans, badly outnumbered and being basically gangbanged by Communists (that would be an excellent band name by the way), were forced to retreat to a tiny perimeter around the city of Pusan and wait for reinforcements. The 1st Cavalry was ordered to hold the roads as long as possible, defend at all costs against literally hundreds of thousands of North Korean troops, and keep the road open so supplies and troops and refugees could be evacuated back to Pusan.
Corporal Ted Rubin was positioned atop a critical hill overlooking the main road to Pusan. When every other man in his unit was killed in hand-to-hand combat with a massive human wave attack of NK troops armed with everything from WWII Russian bolt-action rifles to sharpened sticks and heavy rocks, Ted Rubin went total blood-rage berserker, grabbed a .30-caliber machine gun out of the hands of a dead U.S. gunner, and single-handedly defended the hill for over 24 hours, inflicting, as the Medal of Honor citation puts it, "massive casualties" on the enemy. When reinforcements finally arrived to dope out the situation, they found Ted Rubin sitting on top of the mountain next to a smoking gun barrel, an empty ammunition can, and the largest pile of dead Koreans you've ever seen.
Two weeks later he led a one-man assault on the enemy and personally captured over a hundred North Korean troops by himself.
North Korean human wave attack.
During the period between 1950 and 1953, Ted Rubin fought on the front lines with a ridiculous amount of bravery, guts, and balls-out awesomeness. He was so damned impressive that his commanders nominated him for the Medal of Honor four separate times, the Silver Star twice, and a couple other medals a few more times, but never actually received any of them because his First Sergeant was a hardcore Mel Gibson-style anti-semite bastard who refused to write up any of the reports, once telling a fellow Sergeant that he'd rather be court martialed than see a Jew receive the Medal of Honor. Instead, the First Sergeant would just sent Rubin out on a bunch of crazy suicide missions and ultra-dangerous patrols, hoping to get this American hero killed before he could get any more medals.
Naturally, Rubin kept coming back alive. He was just weird like that I guess.
After 3 years kicking ass up and down the Korean peninsula, Tibor Rubin found himself in yet another jacked-up situation in October of 1953, when his 150-man company was assaulted by an entire Brigade of Chinese infantry – almost 5,000 men. Rubin, flipping his business into full-on freak-out mode once again, grabbed a .30 cal machine gun out of a gun pit that had been wiped out with a grenade, repositioned the weapon, and started blasting everything he could see with a flying curtain of sheet metal. Wounded badly by shrapnel and shot a couple times, Rubin kept firing until he ran out of bullets, got blown up with a grenade, and had his unconscious body hauled back to North Korea as a Prisoner of War.
The Korean War was hardcore shiz.
Thrown into a Chinese-run Prisoner of War camp in Pyoktong, Korea, Ted Rubin and 35-40 of his fellow GIs were essentially tossed in a hole and forgotten about. Deprived of food, medical care, and common human respect, these wounded, starving men were subjected to horrifying conditions trapped in small, squalid cells in below-freezing temperatures without access to basic aid or cold weather clothing. Every day men were starving, dying of their wounds, or freezing to death.
Rubin remembered this sort of thing pretty well. And, more importantly he knew how to survive it.
As a Hungarian national from a fellow Communist country, the Chinese camp commander offered Rubin a free ticket out of the camp and back to his home country. He refused. Instead, for the next year and a half, Ted Rubin – the badly-wounded Hungarian with more American patriotism than half the population of this country – repeatedly snuck out of his cell in the middle of the night, broke into supply depots around the camp, stole the food and supplies his buddies needed, brought it back, broke BACK IN to the prison cell, and administered aid to the sick and dying. When he wasn't doing that, he was utilizing morale-building tricks he'd learned in Nazi death camps to keep the spirits of his men alive. We're going to get home, guys, don't worry about it.
Tibor Rubin sneaking a box of food back to the American prison cell.
After nearly two years in a Chinese POW camp, surviving brutal, horrific conditions, Ted Rubin and 40 men from his company were released back to America. He returned home, went to work in his brother's liquor store, and went back to his daily life.
Meanwhile, the men he'd saved continually pushed for Rubin to get some kind of official recognition by the American government for all the badass/awesome work he'd done saving and/or taking lives in Korea between 1950 and 1953. Their calls and letters went unheard until very recently, when the United States Army opened up an inquiry into racism involving medals, saw all the reports from the C.O.'s about Rubin's bravery, read all the letters from the GI's in the camps, and did basically what you're doing right now, which is to be like, "holy crap, how the hell have we never heard of this guy before."
On September 23rd, 2005, almost exactly 8 years ago today, 76 year-old Tibor Rubin became the 18th Jewish recipient of the Medal of Honor.
It was an award long overdue.
Brody, Seymour. Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America. Frederick Fell, 2004.
Medal of Honor. Artisan, 2011.
Willbanks, James H. America's Heroes. ABC-CLIO, 2011.