OC Veterans Day Celebration Salutes Medal of Honor Recipient

Tibor Rubin
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Tibor Rubin, a Nazi concentration camp survivor who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery as a U.S. Army corporal in the Korean War will be honored Tuesday along with 50 other Korean War veterans during ceremonies at the Orange County Fair Grounds and Event Center.

The free public event has two purposes, according to organizers: honoring Korean War veterans with a special U.S. postage stamp and connecting veterans of recent combat in the Middle East to good-paying union jobs.

The goal, said Nick Berardino, general manager of the Orange County Employees Association or OCEA, is to “try to provide for veterans middle class jobs that pay middle class wages.”

Information on union apprenticeship programs and other job resources as well as free wheel chairs for disabled vets, will be available at the Veterans Day celebration that runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Free hot dogs will be offered to the public along with music and other entertainment, according to the event announcement. Members of the public also are encouraged to bring food and other supplies for homeless and other veterans in need. For the list of suggested appropriate donations, click here.

Korean War Postage Stamp

Special postage stamps and envelopes honoring the 145 Army and Navy Korean War Medal of Honor recipients will be for sale, according to an event announcement.

The U.S. Postal Service announced the commemorative stamps in July. More than two thirds of the Medal of Honor recipients died in combat, according to the Postal Service.

Local veterans being honored Tuesday in addition to Rubin, of Garden Grove, are 50 Korean War veterans, including Buffalo Soldiers, black members of the military who served in segregated units until the practice ended during the Korean fighting.

More than 6.8 million military personnel served in Korea between 1950 and 1953. In addition to Rubin, there was one other Medal of Honor recipient from Orange County, the late Marine Capt. William Barber of Irvine.

Rubin, 85, was born in Hungary and he and his family were sent to concentration camps during the Nazi persecution of Jews.According to his Medal of Honor biography, his father, Ferenz, died in the Buchenwald concentration camp and his mother, Rosa and 10-year-old sister, Elonja, were murdered in the gas chamber at Auschwitz, Germany.

Rubin survived 14 months in the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria and immigrated to the U.S. in 1948. He joined the Army in 1950.

His Medal of Honor citation states: “While his unit was retreating to the Pusan Perimeter, Corporal Rubin was assigned to stay behind to keep open the vital Taegu-Pusan Road link used by his withdrawing unit. During the ensuing battle, overwhelming numbers of North Korean troops assaulted a hill defended solely by Corporal Rubin. He inflicted a staggering number of casualties on the attacking force during his personal 24-hour battle, single-handedly slowing the enemy advance and allowing the 8th Cavalry Regiment to complete its withdrawal successfully.”

Later, he was “severely” wounded, captured by the Chinese and imprisoned for 30 months. He used survival skills learned as a teen at the German concentration camp to help other U.S POWs survive, including scavenging for food and helping treat the wounded.

But it wasn’t until 2005 that Rubin received the Medal of Honor from Pres. George W. Bush.

The Washington Post reported an anti-Semitic sergeant had blocked efforts to recognize his bravery.

Jobs for Vets

Representiatives of several labor unions, including electricians, other labor skills and county employees are planning to offer advice and training information to veterans who are currently unemployed or in low-paying jobs.

Middle class jobs, roughly $50,000 to $100,000 a year, took a severe hit nationwide during the Great Recession and have not recovered in Orange County and many other areas.

A July report by the University of California, Irvine Community & Labor Project and the UCLA Labor Center determined most Orange County job growth in the next decade is in low-wage industries like tourism, and entry-level retail and restaurant work.

At the same time, Orange County’s high cost of living means almost half of existing households can’t afford to buy an entry-level home and the average rent on a one bedroom apartment requires an annual income of $52,480.

“Orange County is a very tough place to find a job,” said Berardino, a Marine Vietnam War combat veteran. He said OCEA and county officials are discussing a way to help veterans qualify for entry level jobs by giving those who served in the military extra points when applying to work for Orange County.

Event sponsors include the California Labor Federation, United Food and Commercial Workers local 1428 as well as OCEA and the U.S. Postal Service.

Everyone who goes to the Veterans Day event will be offered a free hot dog. In addition, veterans will get a free beer and cigar.

“We’re not being politically correct,” said Berardino. “We’re being vets.”

Please contact Tracy Wood directly at twood@voiceofoc.org and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/tracyVOC.

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