The National Museum of
American Jewish Military History

1811 R Street NW, Washington, D.C 20009. | 202-265-6280 | |

Hall of Heroes:American Jewish Recipients of The Medal of Honor

American Jewish Recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross and Air Force Cross

Citations and Selected Biographies


Distinguished Service Cross

One of the youngest soldiers to be honored with a decoration, Abend enlisted when he was only fifteen years old, serving first on the Mexican border. He was sent to France with the First Division in 1917. Then during the night of May 17, 1918, the Germans raided the American line near the village of Cantigny, with heavy losses on both sides. The next morning, the Americans retook the town, capturing about 800 prisoners, but the American casualties were heavy. All of the officers of his battalion were either killed or wounded, so the eighteen-year old Corporal Abend took command and repulsed several attacks by the enemy. Corporal Louis Abend's Distinguished Service Cross citation reads:

"When all the officers in his battalion became casualties, Corporal Abend voluntarily took command, reorganized the battalion and repulsed three powerful counterattacks launched by the enemy. He kept his men so well in hand that they suffered very little loses during the attack."


Distinguished Service Cross

Joseph Louis "Little Joe" Bale was born in Detroit, MI in January 1924. He had a brother by the same name, known as "Big Joe." The brothers were known for their athletic abilities, appearing regularly in the headlines about the all City and championship teams in baseball and basketball. They were inseparable and attended Michigan State College together, until World War II began and separated them.

"Little Joe" joined the Army and went to France assigned to Combat Intelligence. He was wounded three times, but always returned to service. On January 30, 1945, right after his 21st birthday, he was mortally wounded while heroically destroying enemy tanks with his bazooka. For this heroism, "Little Joe" was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously.

Joseph Bale's Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads: "For extraordinary heroism in action on 30 Jan 1945 near Wihr-en-Plaine, France when his battalion was attacked and halted by enemy tanks, which rolled over the assault riflemen and killed others. With 88mm machine gun fire and rifle grenade fire, Pfc Bale fearlessly attacked with his rocket launcher, ignoring shells exploding five yards away and machine gun bullets which raked the position, he knocked out an enemy tank, forcing the Germans to withdraw. Later the same morning when his Bn. Op. was attacked by another tank at 100 yards, he braved shell fired in a single-handed attempt to destroy it, but was mortally wounded."

The Pfc. Joseph L. Bale Post #474 of the Jewish War Veterans was dedicated in "Little Joe's" memory. It eventually grew to become the largest post in the Department of Michigan. His brother, "Big Joe" served as Post Commander, as well as Department of Michigan Commander.


Distinguished Service Cross

A native of New York City, Abraham Baum enlisted as a private in the Army in December 1941. He was sent overseas as a second lieutenant in December 1943 and participated in five campaigns in the European Theater of Operations. After World War II he went to Israel where he participated with Moshe Dayan and Teddy Kollek in the 1948 War of Independence. In addition to the Distinguished Service Cross, Major Baum has received the Silver Star with clusters, Distinguished Unit Citation, and the Combat Infantry Badge.


Distinguished Service Cross

PRIVATE Henry Berkowitz, 25, of Brooklyn, received the Distinguished Service Cross. His ship was coming into shore when it was hit and sunk by enemy fire on D-Day. Berkowitz jumped from the sinking boat with his Signal Corps radio. Under a hail of incessant enemy machine-gun fire, he began making his way ashore through the surf. He was seriously wounded as he approached the beach, but kept hold of his vitally important radio and came ashore with it.

Reaching the land, he refused treatment, dragged himself and his equipmentalong the fire-swept beach, going through a minefield until he got to his forward observation party. His wound was painful and the enemy fire was intense, but he stayed at his radio, operating it all through the time his section was on the beach. The citation accompanying the award praised his "courage and complete devotion to duty."

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