Staff Sergeant Max Warshaw was awarded 11 medals and a Combat Medic Badge in World War 11 and he never carried or fired a firearm. He was an Army medic attached to the 26th Infantry Regiment of the First Division, nicknamed "big red one."
Warshaw was born in December 1913, in Korbin, Poland. He was the son of Blanche, nee Pollack, and Jacob Warshaw. They came to the U.S. in 1923 seeking freedom and the opportunity to earn a living. He was educated in the public schools of New York City and later became a linen supply salesman. In March, 1941, he entered the Army.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese and the United States was at war with Japan and Germany, his division was sent to North Africa. As a medic, Warshaw never carried a firearm. The only apparatus he carried was medical to help the wounded.
Warshaw always volunteered for the dangerous assignments. As a Jew, he felt that he had to show the others that Jews weren't afraid to face danger. He received his first Bronze Star medal on November 8, 1942, in the North African Campaign. His regiment was fighting the Germans in Oran, Algeria. He risked his life by exposing himself to the enemy to help his regiment's wounded lying in open areas.
Two days later, on November 10, in Algeria, Warshaw was wounded by shrapnel. "An artillery shell blew up right near me," he recalled, "it didn't knock me out and I didn't require hospitalization. However, for many years I would still need to have artillery shrapnel removed."
Warshaw received his first Silver Star medal for gallantry in action in the vicinity of El Guettar, Tunisia, March 25, 1943. The citation reads, "...when a heavy enemy artillery barrage had compelled two drivers to abandon their vehicles, Sergeant Warshaw fearlessly entered this area and removed the vehicles, thereby saving valuable equipment from destruction." On D-Day, he landed with his outfit in Normandy, where he was one of the first to hit Omaha Beach. It was for his heroism on June 14 and 15, 1944, that he received his second Bronze Star medal.
His division kept pushing the German Army back to its own country. It was in Aachen, Germany, on October 13, 1944, that Warshaw received his third Bronze Star medal. He constantly exposed himself to the enemy to administer first aid to the wounded. Three days later, on October 15, 1944, he was again awarded the Silver Star medal for heroism and gallantry beyond the call of duty.
On November 25, 1944, Staff Sergeant Max Warshaw was captured by the Germans. They gave him a medical kit to care for the other prisoners of war. He was liberated five months later and sent to England for medical care.
Max Warshaw returned to civilian life after the war and he became active in many veterans' organizations. In 1956, he and his wife, Evelyn, moved to Fair Lawn, New Jersey, where he held many positions in the Jewish War Veterans of the USA.
Warshaw is one of the most highly decorated Jews who served in World War 11. He has two Silver Star medals, three Bronze Star medals, the Purple Heart, the Ex-Prisoner of War Medal, the Pre-Pearl Harbor Medal, the European Theater of Operations Medal with six campaign clusters, the Victory Medal, the New York State Conspicuous Cross Medal (for highly decorated veterans), and the Army Combat Medic Badge. Max Warshaw is not only a hero, but a legend in the Jewish heroes in America.
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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Last updated 18 October 2006