Illustration by Art Seiden

Florida Atlantic University Libraries

Jewish Heroes and Heroines in America

World War II to the Present:

A Judaica Collection Exhibit



Jewish Naval and Marine Corps Officer Heroes in World War II

by Seymour "Sy" Brody

In World War II the Japanese propaganda featured the myth that their fighting men are never taken as prisoners. The purpose was to create an illusion that they were invincible. Major General Melvin Krulewitch, the highest-ranking Jewish officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, was one of the first to destroy that myth. He personally captured Japanese prisoners in one of his engagements. Major General Krulewitch was the first to fly the American flag on Japanese territory.

Fighting in World War II to defend America from its enemies was nothing new to Major General Krulewitch. In World War I, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps as a private. His outfit went to France to fight the German Army, and he proved himself to be a hero in Belleau Woods. After World War I, he returned to civilian life to raise a family and establish a successful law practice. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, he rejoined the Marine Corps as an officer.

Major General Krulewitch was awarded the Bronze Star with Clusters, the Purple Heart. a Presidential Unit Citation and the Naval Unit Citation. He also received a Special Commendation Ribbon of the Secretary of the Navy. During the Korean War, he was sent on special assignment,

When the nation of Israel was born and needed skilled military officers to instruct and develop its fledgling army, Major General Krulewitch joined other World War II Jewish heroes in going there to be of service.

When Admiral Ben Moreel received his fourth star, he became the highest-ranking Jewish officer in Navy history. Admiral Moreel was another hero who fought in two wars for his country. In World War I, he enlisted in the Navy and was commissioned to be a lieutenant Junior grade). He was assigned to the Civil Engineering Corps and promotions followed swiftly. In the 1930s, he served as public works officer at Pearl Harbor, and then became chief of civil engineers of the Navy. He was promoted to the rank of rear admiral and in 1944, President Roosevelt made him a vice admiral.

Admiral Moreel, starting with 3,000 men, formed the Seabees when World War II erupted. It had grown to about a quarter of a million men when the war ended. His Seabees developed airfields, roads and housing in undeveloped islands in the Pacific.

Rear Admiral Louis Dreller was a veteran and hero of World Wars I and II. In June 1918, he was commissioned a lieutenant Junior grade) in World War I and he was assigned for engineering duty. After the war, he remained in the Navy and rapidly rose through the ranks to become a rear admiral in 1943. In World War 11, he saw action as a member of the staff of Commander Amphibious Force, Pacific (April 10 to May 7, 1942).

Returning to the United States, he reported to Headquarters, Fourth Naval District, Philadelphia, designing destroyers which were built there for the Brazilian Navy. Admiral Dreller was recognized for his services for many assignment by being awarded the Legion of Merit.

From the Revolutionary War through World War 11, Jews have distinguished themselves in the United States Navy, from seamen to a four star admiral, in serving our country.


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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Special Collections and Archives
S.E. Wimberly Library


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