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Salute to

Tidewater Jewish Military Connections Supplement to Jewish News November 9, 2015


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MILITARY Published 22 times a year by United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community 5000 Corporate Woods Drive, Suite 200 Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462-4370 voice 757.965.6100 • fax 757.965.6102 email news@ujft.org Terri Denison, Editor Germaine Clair, Art Director Hal Sacks, Book Review Editor Sandy Goldberg, Account Executive Mark Hecht, Account Executive Marilyn Cerase, Subscription Manager Reba Karp, Editor Emeritus Sherri Wisoff, Proofreader

Dear Readers, The United States military is practically synonymous with Tidewater. With all branches located here, including and especially, the world’s largest Naval Base, it’s no wonder that nearly everyone—including the Jewish community—has some sort of military ties.

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In fact, many members of Tidewater’s Jewish community were once stationed here, thought it was a good place to stay, and are now so much a part of the community, it seems they are natives.

Jay Klebanoff, President Alvin Wall, Treasurer Stephanie Calliott, Secretary Harry Graber, Executive Vice-President www.jewishVA.org

The concept for this section came from a conversation with Marilyn Goldman who had just returned from a visit at the National Museum of American Jewish Military History in Washington, D.C. Her

The appearance of advertising in the Jewish News does not constitute a kashrut, political, product or service endorsement. The articles and letters appearing herein are not necessarily the opinion of this newspaper. © 2015 Jewish News. All rights reserved. Subscription: $18 year For subscription or change of address, call 757-965-6128 or email mcerase@ujft.org.

story is on page 18. Jay Klebanoff’s interview with Col. Ed Shames is a fascinating read, and Hal Sacks’ review of Shames’ book is just in time for the Jaffe Family Jewish Book Festival. Philip Rovner shares his memories of returning from Vietnam and Jim

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Eilberg of serving on a ship with President John F. Kennedy and his family on board to watch the America Cup Races. Hal Sacks also writes about the many veterans he’s recently encountered and how appreciative he is of their service. Not short on stories, just on room, we’ve also included articles on Tidewater

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Jewish Foundation’s 6th Annual Veteran’s

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honor our Veterans, thank those who are

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serving and be grateful for those who will serve in the future.

Terri Denison, Editor

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Jewishnewsva.org | Salute to the Military | November 9, 2015 | Jewish News | 17


MILITARY Want a family member’s military record? by Marilyn Goldman

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tart by writing to the National Personnel

Records

Military

Personnel Records. All requests

require a written signature by mail or fax. For information call 314-8010800 or e-mail http//vetrecs.archives. gov. Phone calls and e-mails are best used once you have a request number. You need to be the next of kin, know the veteran’s social security number, date and place of birth and have a valid reason for the request. After 62 years, records are transferred to the National Archives in St. Louis. Some very early records before 1917, are stored at Textual Archives Division, in Washington D.C. 20408. On July 12, 1973, a devastating fire destroyed the major portion of military personnel records for the period of 1912 through 1959, and the records of Air Force personnel from Hubbard to Z through 1963. Fortunately, alternate sources have been developed in recent years, which contain information to reconstruct the service data lost in the fire, although some of it may be missing. There’s usually no charge for copies, but depending on the number of pages, it can cost $25 to $70. On a personal note, I was able to retrieve my father’s World War 1 record after previously being told it was lost in the fire. It arrived showing some pages with burned edges, but incredibly, most of it was saved.

The picture of loss by Marilyn Goldman

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n early morning flight from Norfolk brought me to Washington D.C., and now my cousin and I were in the National Museum of American Jewish Military History, a little known repository of military service sponsored by the Jewish War Veterans. We waited for a prearranged appointment in a dimly lit foyer, shorn of decoration; a somber place with no mistaking its purpose, when abruptly the elevator doors opened and a woman appeared holding a picture in her hand. “I’m Pamela Elbe, archives’ manager,” she said, offering me the picture—stripped of its decorative gold frame, but with the citation attached. I took it, shaken by the young familiar face that stared at me and long ago memories spiraled through my head of all that had been lost.

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or many decades, Louis’ picture hung in a place of honor at the Jewish Community Center in Shenandoah, Pa., a small coal-mining town, where about 100 Jewish families resided, including my own. As the use of anthracite declined, residents began a migration that eventually would leave the town a shell of its former self. The entire Jewish community moved elsewhere; the synagogue and center were sold, its artifacts auctioned and only the cemetery atop the mountain left to attest to the town’s once thriving Jewish community. During those chaotic years the picture vanished. My grandparents were the first of our family to arrive on American shores in the early 1890s, when they immigrated to the United States from Borznav, Russia. They made their way to the town of Girardville in Pennsylvania’s coal region, the only Jewish family in an all-Irish community, where my father and his eight siblings were born and raised. From a dry goods store connected to their home, they garnered a living, subsidized by my grandfather peddling wares and the older children helping out. It was a hard life, but one that offered

18 | Jewish News | November 9, 2015 | Salute to the Military | jewishnewsva.org

opportunities which my grandparents previously might only have imagined. Without fear of pogroms or forced into ghettos reserved only for Jews, they lived well among strangers and showered love upon their adopted country. An American flag graced the store’s window and a picture of the president of the United States was displayed on the mantelpiece inside their home. In the future, their children and grandchildren would honor their patriotism, but not without consequences. When the United States declared war on Germany in 1917, my father and his older brother enlisted in the Army and separately were deployed overseas to fight the Germans. In the midst of war, while crossing a dirt road in a French village, they bumped into one another. That remarkable encounter lasted only a few minutes, not enough to exchange more than a few words, when they had to proceed on. They did not meet again until after the conflict was over and they were safely at home. Growing up we rarely heard my father talk about the war, except for that incident. When we asked him about his other experiences, his response was, “I hid behind the coal stove.” It was good for a laugh, although we knew it was untrue. After my parents married and made their home in Shenandoah, he became actively engaged in veteran’s affairs. Eventually, he would become commander of the region’s Veterans of Foreign Wars. President Woodrow Wilson famously remarked those veterans had fought the

war that would end future wars. On November 11, each year at 11am—the hour the Armistice was signed—sirens sounded throughout the nation in remembrance, veterans marched in parades wearing service caps and poppies in their lapels. Within a brief 20-plus years, the poppies and marching bands would disappear. Veterans Day would supplant Armistice Day and the World War 1 veterans would see their sons and daughters, neighbors and friends sent off to fight a larger, more deadly, Second World War. Growing up in Shenandoah, we were surrounded by our relatives, the Kline families; one lived next door, the other around the corner. My brother, Melvin Wall, and cousin, Louis Kline, the only child of Harry and Margaret Kline, had been born two days apart and were inseparable friends. Each morning I waited for Louis’ whistle achieved by putting two fingers in his mouth and blowing a long piercing tone, accompanied by a “Hey Melvie, hey Mergie,” his nicknames for us. We called him Louie. Upon hearing his


MILITARY signal I opened the door for him to pick up Mel for school; it was a ritual I took seriously. As the little sister four years younger, I was tolerated by my brother and slightly more accepted as an equal by my cousin. The three of us were always together on Saturday nights, when our parents worked late because the stores were open, and friends gathered at our house for games and playing records. I loved it, but I’m not so sure the boys felt the same way since they had to babysit me. The years of growing up melded into deeper relationships in which we became closer as one family; going back and forth between our homes, school activities, religious events and holidays. Both boys were liked, my brother very popular, outgoing and involved, where Louis, a handsome teen, was sweet-natured and caring—all normally desirable attributes—but later we would have cause to dwell on. Then our next-door relatives moved away. Not long after, Louis’ parents were presented with a business opportunity in Bangor, Maine and they too, moved. In retrospect it seems there had been little time to adjust to the departures, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the country was plunged into war. Like most Americans, our lives were changed forever. My brother completed his freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania and at 18, entered the Army. Upon completion of his medical residency, my father’s brother, 26-year-old Dr. Norman Wall, was dispatched by the Army to North Africa, where he and other American troops built and supplied medical emergency field hospitals. He would later be ordered to Eritrea to become the Army’s youngest commanding officer of a base hospital. My aunt Lillian Wall, a patriotic young social worker, also wanted to join the war effort, after her husband was called up for the Army. With a degree in sociology from the University of Alabama, she wasn’t content to remain in her county supervisory job and yearned to get into the thick of things. There were many bureaucratic options she might have chosen, such as working for the War Department in Washington, like her sister, Fanny, or volunteering for any number of industries fueling the war effort. But only the WAC, the military service for

women, appealed to her. She went through rigorous basic training and then was sent to Fort Belvoir, Va. to enter Officers Candidate School. On the day of her graduation from OCS, an Army truck struck her as she got out of her jeep. She died instantly. A few days later, my father and I went to the Girardville train station to meet the train bringing her body home to her family. When it slowed to a stop, three soldiers, comprising the Honor Guard, stepped off. But the coffin never appeared. Panic ensued. Phone calls and telegrams from the stationmaster discovered that the railcar carrying her body had been coupled to another train, and no one was certain where it went. Much later that night her casket was recovered and brought to Girardville, where my grandparents, already in a state of shock, had been dealt another blow. In late May 1944, I was waiting for my father, who usually took a walk before dinner, especially when the weather was pleasant after the long winter. He opened

Postcard from Lillian Wall to her father.

the door, didn’t ask me about my day, or sit down to chat, but stood clearing his throat. “I have something to tell you,” he said, just barely audible. I felt like my heart had stopped; his unusual actions told me it was bad news. I was afraid to hear it. At the time of Lillian’s death, my brother was at a port of embarkation about to leave for overseas and he was allowed a 48-hour emergency pass. We hadn’t heard from him since. Other family members were scattered across Europe, the

Mediterranean and the Pacific war zones. It was one of them, I was sure. My father moved closer, then sat down putting his arm around my shoulders and began, his voice breaking, “I had a call from Harry Kline this morning. Louis was killed on Biak Island saving three wounded soldiers in a terrible battle. He was shot by a Japanese sniper.” Barely able to speak, he got out the words, “He was a hero…only nineteen.” continued on page 20

The National Museum of American Jewish Military History

If You Go The National Museum of American Jewish Military History is located on DuPont Circle 1811 R Street NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 265-6280. Call before arriving. Hours are erratic, closed on Saturdays, open by appointment only on Sundays. Closed on Federal and Jewish holidays. Tours require an appointment. Get there early if you have an appointment, the only parking available is on the street. You may want to take the Metro Red Line to DuPont Circle Q Street exit, a few blocks away, or park at one of the nearby cafes, have a snack and walk. While the museum is small in size there is much to see. Among its permanent collection, you’ll find compelling documents, photographs and artifacts commemorating the service of Jews in every facet of America’s military history. At a cost of $750,000, the museum’s newest exhibit is a digital table, which depicts 350 years of Jews defending their country. Choose your area of interest from Asser Levy’s being granted the right to bear arms to help protect New Amsterdam in 1657, to the 55 Jewish men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is all about the country’s involvement in conflicts, world events and individual stories of Jewish participants. The Jewish Welfare Board, Jewish War Veterans and the museum estimate that around 10,000 Jews fought in the Civil

War, 225,000 in World War 1 and 550,000 in World War 11. Most of the museum’s membership stems from World War 11 veterans. To remain viable the museum is offering 20,000 Jewish soldiers now on active duty free membership. The museum is an affiliate of the national Jewish War Veterans, which shares its space.

Jewishnewsva.org | Salute to the Military | November 9, 2015 | Jewish News | 19


MILITARY continued from page 19

Fifteen months later, the war ended on August 14, 1945. Another two years would pass before the Army sent Louis’ remains to Shenandoah for burial. He had been awarded the Silver Star posthumously, the third highest award for valor under fierce enemy fire. The military Honor Guard carried his coffin into the small synagogue for the service. Later at the graveside, rifles were fired on command and taps sounded over the hushed mourners as his body was lowered into the ground. The flag that draped his coffin was presented to his heartbroken mother by a member of the honor guard. Before leaving for Maine, Harry Kline handed my father a goldframed picture of Louis in uniform with a request that it be displayed at the Jewish Community Center.

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till standing in the museum’s lobby holding the picture, I finished telling Elbe the story. The archivist suggested we take the elevator to the second floor to see the displays. We took the elevator where the doors opened upon the Captain Joshua Goldberg Memorial Chapel and viewed the Hall of Heroes, photographs of Congressional Medal of Honor recipients and artifacts from America’s wars. Gazing at the impressive collection of Jewish American history, it occurred to me Louis’ picture would be returned to the archive’s file rather than put on display. Like so many brave Americans, who had sacrificed their lives for their country, he would then be forgotten. I asked Elbe why a Silver Star Medal recipient, who saved the lives of three wounded soldiers at the cost of his own life, would not be honored somewhere in the museum? “Our small size and the prevalence of wars doesn’t allow for many more exhibits,” Elbe offered. “It’s just about filled with the permanent collection and Congressional Medal recipients.” Then she added, “It might be displayed for a special exhibit, but we’ve just about finished with World War II, and now we’re working on other projects.” The museum has since mounted an exhibition covering 350 years of American Jews in the military, presented in digital format and text, which has been incorporated into its permanent collection.

Our visit nearly complete, I was reluctant to part with the picture and about to ask if I could take it with me when my cousin, Sharon Wall, interrupted. It was she who found the picture on a chance Internet search of the museum’s site. We contacted the museum, which told us the granddaughter of a former Shenandoah resident had come across it in the basement of her grandparents’ house, mixed in with some old papers. Affixed to it was the written citation. The woman did not know anything about Louis, other than the information on the citation and was told that he had no living relatives. She subsequently brought it to the museum, which now has legal ownership. Sensing what I was about to do and knowing I had little chance of retrieving it, Sharon turned to Elbe and requested a copy of the picture. After what seemed a long wait, the archivist returned and gave me a reproduction of the picture that was nearly as perfect as the original. I thanked Elbe profusely. She said the museum is interested in pictures, diaries and artifacts dealing with wartime experiences, and they would be pleased to have them from our family. Sharon and I said goodbye to her and went out into the sunlit day, a welcome contrast from the darkness of the museum. At the steps, I paused unable to make the transition from the past into the present. I turned at the sound of a familiar whistle, loud and clear as it had been those many decades ago outside my house. “Did you hear that?” I asked Sharon. She looked at me quizzically, “Hear what?” “Never mind,” I said. “It was probably my imagination.” I placed the picture carefully under my arm, as we walked away from the museum. Dedicated to the memory of those in my family who served their country with honor in time of war: Abe Wolowitz, France, World War I; Jake Wolowitz, France World War I; Melvin Wall, European Theatre, World War II; Dr. Norman Wall, North African Theatre, World War II; Lillian Wall, WAC, World War II, Louis Kline, Pacific Theatre, World War II posthumously awarded the Silver Star. And my husband Daniel Goldman, Army Air Corps, European Theatre, World War II, whom I met four years after the end of World War II.

20 | Jewish News | November 9, 2015 | Salute to the Military | jewishnewsva.org

First Person

Naval Station’s Commodore Levy Chapel has new rabbi by Rabbi Gershon Litt

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idewater is honored to have many wonderful military and military support personnel. The largest concentration of military personnel in the area is at Naval Station Norfolk, which can have as many as 75,000 civilian and military employees and contractors associated with it at any given period of time with all its various commands. We, in the Jewish community, have the unique opportunity of welcoming in the Jewish members of our armed forces and the civilian support staff associated with these various commands. The Commodore Uriah P. Levy Chapel, located at Naval Station Norfolk, is the oldest land-based Jewish chapel on a naval station in North America. The chapel has serviced the Jewish needs of military and civilian personnel since 1959. Recently, the Naval Station decided they wanted a rabbi to take over the chapel and offered me a contract, which will be in addition to my other jobs in the Tidewater community including severing as the Hillel directors at both William and Mary and Christopher Newport University, as the executive director of the Norfolk Kollel, and as the rabbi of Adath Jeshurun Synagogue in Newport News. My role at the Naval base chapel will be primarily to reach out to Jewish military personnel stationed on the base, as well as area Jewish civilians associated with the military. I will facilitate Shabbat and holiday services, offer chaplaincy services to those in need, connect military personnel with community resources, teach classes, and facilitate life cycle events for those stationed locally. If you would like to offer support for these programs, please contact me at rabbilitt@norfolkkollel.com.

Rabbi Gershon Litt

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MILITARY Tending to President Kennedy and his family aboard the USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. by Jim EIlberg

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n September of 1962, while serving as the senior Supply Officer aboard USS Blandy (DD 943) out of Newport Rhode Island, I was detailed to the destroyer USS Joseph P Kennedy Jr. for the duration of the America Cup Races being held that year off Narragansett Bay. The Kennedy, named for the President’s eldest brother killed in World Was II, had only a very junior Supply Officer aboard and CRUDESLANT (Cruiser Destroyer Force Atlantic) wanted to give him an assist because President John F. Kennedy, his family and many of his White House staff, would be observing the races each day from the destroyer Kennedy. As a Lieutenant, it was my job to oversee the Field Food Service Team’s efforts to keep the press corps well-fed during the daily sail and attend to any other of their needs. The Team was composed of four very accomplished chief commissary men, so my job was far from demanding.

USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr.

Each morning the press came aboard between 0800 and 0900 and shortly thereafter, the President and his party were piped aboard. They pretty much confined themselves to the forward part of the ship, the C.O.’s quarters and Wardroom, which had been reconfigured for their use. That is, all except for the President’s children, Caroline almost five years old, and JohnJohn almost two years old, who seemed to have the run of the ship; particularly Caroline who kept the Secret Service folks challenged as she scampered around the 01 deck at will. Lunch was served on the 01 level each noon and was well attended. I suspected that Press Secretary Pierre Salinger dined with the Presidential Party up forward and then came aft for a second luncheon. He was a hearty eater. Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy came back to speak with everyone on several occasions and I had the good fortune to speak with her more than once. Initially she told me, in her very

breathless and beguiling voice, just how much she and the President enjoyed the Navy Mess at the White House. She could not have been nicer. Robert Pierpoint, who recently passed away and was one of the several correspondents on board, would ask me each day what I thought the sea state was and how many knots of wind speed we were experiencing. I made an educated guess and that’s what went into the evening papers that day. It didn’t matter that I was a Supply Officer and never ventured onto the bridge that week. You must remember this was prior to cellphones and email. So each day as the race was concluding about 3 pm, the reporters tapped out their stories on their typewriters, placed them in watertight bags with floatation devices attached and then dropped them from the fantail into the ocean. Each of the major news services had a speedboat tailing us and they would retrieve the bags with boathooks and immediately head for shore at breakneck speed so the stories could be entered into that night’s newscasts and the daily newspapers. Well, one evening that week, as my wife and I were just finishing our dinner, I received a call from the Supply Corps Lieutenant who was an assistant to the Navy Attache who held the rank of a Line Captain. It seemed that Caroline was having a group of her friends on board the following day for the sail and she had been very impressed with the

Jim EIlberg

Boatswain’s piping aboard of her dad each day. She thought it would be a marvelous idea if she could give each of her friends a boatswain’s pipe as a keepsake of their visit. Obviously, the Attache needed them immediately. Where does one get eight boatswains’ pipes at 8 in the evening? Thankfully, I knew one of the congregants at the Touro Synagogue in Newport who owned a local Army/Navy store. Fortunately, he was at home that night and also fortunately he had at least a dozen pipes in stock. He was flattered to be asked to furnish eight for the President’s daughter. He agreed to meet me downtown at his store within the hour. He didn’t even give me an invoice and I never knew the price. Just before 10 pm, I rolled up to the gates at Hammersmith Farm where the Kennedys were staying. I turned over the valuables to the Supply Corps Lieutenant, and he never asked where I had located them or how much they cost. Sometime later I wrote a very appreciative letter to the shop owner for his kindness. I never did find out if anyone reimbursed him. The ship’s boatswains spent much of the following day giving instruction to Caroline and her friends. And at the conclusion of the races, each of us who had assisted with the Presidential visit was given a PT109 tie clasp as a memento. I still have mine.

Jewishnewsva.org | Salute to the Military | November 9, 2015 | Jewish News | 21


MILITARY

Colonel Ed Shames: World War II Hero by Jay Klebanoff

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t is safe to say the bottle of cognac Colonel Ed Shames opened in celebration of his son’s bar mitzvah at Norfolk’s B’nai Israel synagogue in 1961 was unlike any bottle opened for a b’nai mitzvah in Hampton Roads. Shames’ bottle came straight from Adolph Ed Shames Hitler’s collection. Edward Shames, featured in Ian Gardner’s book, Airborne, The Combat Story of Ed Shames of Easy Company, and portrayed in the HBO mini-series, Band of Brothers, was born in Virginia Beach in 1922. Starting on D-Day in 1944, Ed parachuted behind enemy lines, fought his way through France, Holland, Belgium and Germany—surviving the frozen siege of Bastogne—witnessed first-hand the horrors of Dachau and ultimately savored victory over Germany from the opulence of Hitler’s mountaintop villa in Bavaria. Who could blame the young Army Platoon Commander for helping himself to the Fuhrer’s monogrammed bottle of cognac? The bottle he saved to open when son, Steven, became a bar mitzvah 16 years later. Ed Shames was born to be a soldier. A patriot and a proud Jew, Shames volunteered for the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment at the age of 19 following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; signing up at Fort Monroe in Hampton. The 506th was a new tactical invention at the time, a precursor to the modern day Delta Force. Shames quickly proved to be an exceptional leader, rising through the ranks and receiving the first battlefield commission in the entire 101st Airborne Division following the D-Day invasion. It is clear from Gardner’s book that Shames possessed incredible bravery, intelligence, poise under fire and a love for his fellow soldiers that has carried throughout his long

and interesting life. At the age of 94, Shames is still feisty, sharp and proud to travel the country representing the members of Easy Company, 506th Regiment—his “Band of Brothers.” In advance of the Lee and Bernard Jaffe Family Jewish Book Festival at the Simon Family JCC, I sat with him to ask about his community, his faith, his heroism and his newfound fame. Of his childhood, Shames says, “Things were tough at that time for Jewish boys. There were times when you had to fight your way through. One thing people learned about me…they never called me ‘dirty Jew’ twice. I was a tough SOB; not mean, just tough.” Shames grew up fast. His parents, David and Sadie, raised four children in an orthodox household, sending them to B’nai Israel for Hebrew school when B’nai was still downtown. Unfortunately, David Shames passed away at the age of 42 in 1927, when Shames was just five years old. The family then pulled together to work alongside their mother at Shames Provisions on Virginia Beach Boulevard. Shames learned to be independent, resourceful and determined from those challenging early days, traits that fared him well when he enlisted in the 506th in 1942. “I was determined to make it through training, and we had the toughest training of any regiment in the military. I wanted to get through it and learn everything I could. Also because I was a Jew, I didn’t want to wash out, and lots of guys did. Heck, they had 7,000 volunteers they had to whittle down to 2,500 soldiers. They wanted to discharge me after I hurt my knee on my first parachute jump. I wouldn’t let them. After walking 149 miles from our training base at Camp Toccoa to Ft. Benning in full gear over three and one-half days, there was no way.” Shames had a specific goal in mind. “In high school we had a Jewish fraternity

22 | Jewish News | November 9, 2015 | Salute to the Military | jewishnewsva.org

that met at the 20th Street Shul. We were walking past Shulman’s Men Shop and I saw an officer’s uniform in the window. I said to my friends, “I’m going to wear that uniform one day.” One of the things Shames is most proud of is the battlefield commission he received after proving his mettle during the D-Day invasion. Shames was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and placed in charge of a platoon. Later, on leave in England, he purchased an officer uniform similar to the one he set his sights on at Shulman’s. Shames remembers, “that uniform went with me to Bastogne.” At various times during Shames’ early military experience, he dealt with blatant anti-Semitism. While training in England prior to D-Day, Shames was tasked with organizing a trip to a local Passover seder. “We had 18 men from the regiment sign up and this officer made a disparaging remark about Jews. I could have received a general courtmartial for what I told him.” Shames proved to be an excellent leader and took great pride in the survival rate for his men. “My platoon returned more men from battle than any other platoon in the entire division—that’s over 500 platoons.” After surviving the bitterly cold and brutal siege of Bastogne and Battle of the Bulge, Shames endured the shock of being an early liberator of Dachau, an experience he refuses to discuss. Shames also experienced summiting Kehlstein Mountain in Bavaria—home of Hitler’s mountain retreat known as “Eagle’s Nest.”—and taking a bottle of monogrammed cognac back to Virginia Beach, to be opened at his son’s Bar Mitzvah. “My buddy Lee Kantor finished that bottle and I threw it out. Do you know it would be worth $15,000 today.” After the war, Shames worked in a

capacity for “The Company” that he doesn’t discuss. He has traveled extensively in Israel and the Middle East and he served both his country and his Jewish roots admirably. Today, Shames is looking towards celebrating the 70th anniversary of his Temple Beth El wedding to Ida Aframe on January 27, 1946. “She and I went to school together. Before heading to England I visited her where she was working as a hospital volunteer. She gave me a goodbye kiss on the cheek and that made an impression on me. At the time, Ida was engaged to a Naval officer from New York named Joseph. I got to her just in time after the war. You know, to this day, she won’t tell me his last name.” After a third successful career in insurance, Shames was ready to settle into a well-deserved retirement. HBO’s Band of Brothers and Airborne author, Ian Gardner, had a different idea. After nearly six decades of relative quiet regarding Shames’ World War II exploits, the HBO miniseries and Gardner’s meticulously researched book thrust Shames into the war hero spotlight. Shames has received numerous well-deserved honorariums and is a soughtafter speaker, having just returned from an engagement in Minneapolis before heading to Washington, DC for another talk. In his 90’s, Shames is more popular than ever and still fit and sharp-minded. Although Shames bristles and waves his hand at the hero reference, he truly was heroic—keeping his wits about him when it would have been easy not to, and using his courage, smarts, and doggedness to help take the battle to the German Army while placing his platoon in position to succeed. When asked about his exploits and his late-in-life fame, Colonel Shames simply states, “I did my job.”


MILITARY

Worthy of admiration and pride Airborne: The Combat Story of Ed Shames of Easy Company Ian Gardner Osprey Publishing, 2015 295 pages, $25.95 ISBN: 978-1-4728-0485-3

C

olonel Ed Shames, US Army (retired), turns 93 as this review is being written, is in pretty good health and mentally sharp as ever. When your reviewer first met Ed, I told him Hal Sacks I had reviewed co-author Gardner’s earlier book featuring Ed’s exploits in WWII, Tonight We Die As Men ( Jewish News, 2010). “Yeah, I know,” he said. “Did you ever read the book at all?” I had, but that wasn’t a great start and made me certain to read Airborne from cover to cover, very carefully. The 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (referred to as the 506PIR) was officially activated on July 20, 1942 and the 20-year‑old Ed Shames began his journey in late August of that year. He knew he was part of a somewhat select group of volunteers, but may not have

Ed Shames

known that he and they would be subjected to one of the most grueling training regimes undertaken by a WWII American military unit. To daily calisthenics, drill and physical training was added a torturous obstacle course, 20-mile marches and steep, rocky, mountain trails to climb. The entire saga of the creation of what was to become an iconic unit of the war in Europe takes place in the first 50 or so pages of the book, but it is there that Ed Shames distinguishes himself from the other raw recruits and is elevated to operations sergeant for Major Wolverton, Battalion Commander. [There is a glossary of terms at the end of the book, but the author gives too much credit to today’s readers, 70 years after the fact, assuming we might recall that the WWII regiment generally consisted of three battalions of 400 to 1,000 men; the battalion might have two or more companies of up to 250 men; each company would be made up of two or more platoons of up to 50 men, and the platoon of two or more squads of 8–24 men.] Within a year, the 506th had graduated from jump school and were officially part of the 101st Airborne Division under Major General Bill Lee and in September of 1943 were ferried to England aboard His Majesty’s Troop Ship Samaria, taking up residence in Ramsbury, England while continuing to train and prepare for the inevitable invasion of Europe. Tonight We Die As Men gave us a pretty good idea of Ed Shames’ heroic role in the invasion of France and his battlefield promotion to Lieutenant. Airborne sets the record straight as far as the inaccuracies of the entertaining Stephen Ambrose book, Band of Brothers, and the HBO miniseries. It is understandable that some of the surviving veterans were upset by the composite version of E Company. Ed Shames’ extraordinary ability to recall details of battles fought so long ago, coupled with Ian Gardner’s impeccable research provide a definitive version of the 506’s participation in the invasion of the Netherlands, the Battle of the Bulge, and

less well known engagements, enough to satisfy the most assiduous history buff. If there is any criticism in that regard, it is that the general reader may at times get lost in the detailed enumeration of units, locations, and participants. But that is secondary as our admiration for and pride in the accomplishments of Ed Shames is paramount and anyone wishing to get the true story from the horse’s mouth will relish the action in Airborne. The addition of some maps would assist us in following the flow of battle across Europe. When Ed Shames was fighting his way across the continent, I was in Jr. High School moving pins in maps on the wall as we kept watch

on the daily progress of our armies. —Hal Sacks is a retired Jewish communal worker who has reviewed books for Jewish News for more than 30 years.

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Jewishnewsva.org | Salute to the Military | November 9, 2015 | Jewish News | 23


MILITARY Veterans’ Day 2015 by Hal Sacks

I

promised the Jewish News an article on Veterans’ Day long before I had my recent nine weeks in and out of hospitals and, finally, rehab at Beth Sholom. But somehow I never got around to it. So here are my thoughts on Veterans Day—today. I may have mentioned in a previous article that my memories of what was originally called “Armistice Day,” are very clear. In elementary school, in the 1930s, we learned that at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 the “Guns of August” fell silent. We stood by our desks (five rows of seven desks screwed to the floor) as the teacher opened the outsized classroom windows despite the November chill. She wanted us to hear the saluting batteries from an armory in a nearby neighborhood. We stood in silence, much the same as they do today in Israel on Yom Ha’Atzmaut. The first modern slaughter of millions was over and memorialized. Today, on 11/11 we will observe, not celebrate, Veterans’ Day. It will be a solemn occasion at the Jewish War Veterans’ Memorial on the grounds of the Sandler

The 6th Annual Veterans Day Service

Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community

Family Campus as we remember the Jewish veterans who passed during the last 12 months. They were: Melvin Barr, US Army Air Corp WWII Murray Halpern, US Navy WWII Sidney Finkelstein, US Army Air Corp WWII Leon Saunders, US Army WWII Harry Norkin, US Army WWII Joe Fleischmann, US Army WWII Herman Muni Eisenberg, US Navy WWII Stanley Willner, US Navy David Benson Kruger, US Army WWII Duane Aikman, US Navy Alan Hirsch, US Army Herbert Bregman, US Army Air Corp WWII Dr. Charles Mansbach, US Navy Morton Goldmeier, US Air Force WWII Charles “Chick” Kaufman, US Army WWII Leonard “Myron” Diamondstein, US Army

Wednesday, Nov. 11, 9 am The service will be held outside at the Jewish War Monument and will be followed by a light breakfast after the showing of the film, Beneath the Helmet: From High School to the Home Front. RSVP to Dani Crumpler at dcrumpler@ujft.org or 757-965-6131. Honor a veteran in your family! Monument pavers are still available. Contact Crumpler for more information.

With the reader’s forbearance, I’m going to write about some veterans I met during my recent medical sojourns. First was a Chief Boiler Tender, U.S.Navy (retired). Junius was 16 when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He lived in Newport News and, after school one day, took the ferry to Norfolk and tried to enlist. At his age he needed his father’s permission. His Dad wouldn’t give it until he turned 17, after which he growled, “I signed but don’t let me hear you complaining about the Navy.” When Junius came home from boot camp, where he had trained in mud and dust and was miserable, he was asked by Dad how he liked

24 | Jewish News | November 9, 2015 | Salute to the Military | jewishnewsva.org

Navy now. He replied, “I love it.” Junius served in the Pacific, the Atlantic and north of the Arctic Circle. He served in two destroyers and in a small aircraft carrier (more about them later). Coincidentally, his two destroyers were of the Fletcher and Gearing classes and were sister ships of three destroyers I served in. Now 91, Junius’s memory of on the service is still crystal clear. How Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus I thank him for his service! of the Tidewater Jewish Community Next was Sherry. Sherry was an Operations Specialist (what Wednesday, November 11, 2015 we dubbed a “radarman striker”) 9:00 A.M. and served aboard an ammunition ship. Sherry was living in 5000 Corporate Woods Drive New Jersey when her husband Virginia Beach, VA 23462 passed away at an early age. Not sure where to go or what to do, she remembered her Navy Days in no record of one surviving even a single Tidewater as a happy time and returned torpedo hit. But the crews loved them. here to live. Sherry was my night nurse They carried 20 fighters and 12 torpedo during some of my worst times in the planes but had little armament. Clyde’s hospital. Thoroughly professional, but battle station was as “first loader” for a touchingly caring, she came to assist me “quad” 40mm gun mount. Savo Island even when she was assigned to other was one of six in the squadron and there patients. It was a sailor-to-sailor thing. I were three squadrons. The main Japanese thank her for her service to our country force, two battleships, eight cruisers and 12 destroyers, attacked Clyde’s squadron (and to me). Then there was Donald who enlisted thinking it was a main American force. in the U.S. Marine Corps as a 17-year-old Vastly outgunned, and with two carrishortly after President Truman ordered ers sunk, the remaining escort carriers the integration of the Armed Services. and their aircraft put up an incredible His mother was more than happy to sign fight, sinking one cruiser and damaging permission because Donald was always in others; the Japanese force retreated. Clyde trouble and she couldn’t control him. He is 89 and losing his vision, but we are fought in Korea at Inchon and in the cam- very thankful for his service. If you are paigns following, rising to rank of “buck” wondering if today’s seemingly spoiled Sergeant. He’s 80 years old and looks 65. 18-year-olds could do what he did, let me He still says the Marine Corps “saved his assure you I believe they could. May it life.” Thank you for your service, Donald. never be needed! The community knows that I am proud Finally, I met Clyde. He was an 18-year-old Boiler Tender Seaman aboard of my service but I need to make clear how the USS Savo Island (CVE 78) during the thankful I am to those who went before World War II battle for Leyte Gulf—argu- me as well as those young people today, ably the most famous battle in the history serving lengthy deployments under arduof the United States Navy. The Savo Island ous conditions. So when you thank them was a smallish escort carrier affectionately for their service, thank them from the known as a “Kaiser coffin.” Turned out in heart and, if time permits, talk to them. five days, they were basically merchant They will make a remarkable addition to hulls with a flight deck attached. There is the history our veterans have created.

The 6th Annual VETERANS DAY SERVICE


MILITARY Dedicated to the Young Men under my Command by Philip S. Rovner (Formerly) 1Lt, 1/30th, First Calvary Division

D

uring the last week of August 1970, I returned from a 12-month tour as an artillery commander in Vietnam. The trip home on a commercial military transport gave little time for reflection, as we were mostly, and quite simply, happy to be going home. I was initially in a bit of transitional shock when Philip S. Rovner we landed at Fort Dix, N.J., (which was also an Army training center) to find myself in the midst of a company of new recruits who had just arrived, easily defined by their new military stature. Overcoming this, I out-processed and was placed on a plane where I landed on a Friday afternoon at Hartsfield Atlanta airport where another dose of reality awaited me. The Army had given us all new uniforms and boots. Yet as I walked through the concourse that day I realized that all persons were moving to the other side of the concourse so as to avoid all contact with me. And while it could have been they moved out of respect for a returning soldier, I did not sense this to be the case. Sadly, this may have reflected the general attitude of many Americans at the time. In the weeks that followed and as life resumed some sense of normalcy, I began to reflect on my experiences, to reconstruct what I had seen and felt and smelled. With a keen desire to make up for

lost time, there was not much opportunity to ponder until one day I realized the significance of my service. Over the course of a year I had commanded more than 200 men and had not lost a single one to death or serious injury. I realized that at age 24 I most likely had experienced one of the greatest, if not the greatest, successes of my life. To this day I wonder whether it was fate, skill, luck or what. As the years have played across my memory, I acknowledge that it was some miraculous combination of interactions which accorded me this little known personal sense of accomplishment. Our battery fired tens of thousands of rounds of high explosive and white phosphorous ordinance. We moved our 50-person split artillery battery which supported three (3) 155 howitzers including a full complement of fire direction, mess and medical 13 times without incident. How did it all come to pass? Two years out of college and after having become a commissioned officer through Artillery Officer Candidate School (OCS), I found myself with orders to Vietnam at the very young age of 23. Even though I had successfully completed OCS, I was now to be tested with command responsibility, the responsibility for lives other than my own. In 1969 relatively few of us knew the location of Vietnam on a world map and fewer understood why we were

Over

the course

of a year I had

commanded more

than 200 men and had not lost a single one to death or serious injury.

sending our young men to fight on yet another foreign battle field. Coming from a family who had served in World War II, I welcomed this opportunity to serve, albeit with some trepidation and the concern of my family and close friends. The month I rotated to Vietnam, I was promoted to 1st Lieutenant and was given command of an artillery battery of 1/30th, First Calvary Division, which was the first combat division to be fully Airmobile in that all our moves and resupply were accomplished via an array of helicopters, most particularly the Boeing CH-47 Chinook and the Sikorsky CH-54 (Sky Crane). Connecting and disengaging the helicopters

We salute and thank all Jewish Americans and their families for their great service and immense sacrifice, which has kept our country strong!

Dr. Gary Moss

was a particularly dangerous task as we had to be mindful of static electricity and be sure to balance the load properly. We handled and transported tons of ammunition and explosive powder along with all our other supplies, foodstuffs and water. I’ve come to believe that we fared so extraordinarily well due to our training and our discipline committed to performance under the most challenging of circumstances. And if one memory stands out among the rest, it was waking every day with utmost pride to see our flag flowing in the breeze of the early morning, a site which very much still moves me to this day.

Dr. Greg Pendell

Dr. Craig Koenig

(Son of founder Dr. Burton Moss)

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MILITARY Temple Israel’s Military Appreciation Shabbat typical for civilians, Jewish and Gentile, Commodore Levy Chapel at Norfolk Naval to walk up to those in the military and to Station. One of the high points of my entire career in Norfolk was sharing the thank them for their service. hile in many ways, we in the pulpit at the Levy Chapel with I am confident that the other conHampton Roads Jewish community Jonathan, who had returned gregational rabbis of Tidewater are representative of American Jews in As to participate in the redediwould agree that: As rabbi general, there are some areas in which our cation of the Commodore of an area congregation distinctive profile is evident. We are in a rabbi of an Levy chapel, in memory (Temple Israel), it has been small minority of American Jewish comof Chaplain Sobel. my privilege to serve in a munities to be highly involved in the U.S. area congregation, Jonathan enchanted part of the country where Armed Forces. This little-paralleled local the entire congregamany Jewish soldiers in experience gives us the opportunity to it has been my tion with “Jewish sea our land, sea and air rethink a topic about which, I am sorry to stories.” services are stationed. admit, the majority of American Jews—at privilege to serve in For more than a Some are away from least those of a certain generation—harbor decade, our congrehome for the first time, some unworthy anti-military attitudes. a part of the country gation has partnered and suddenly realize Many of the senior leaders of Jewish with Cantor Aaron what they are missing, communities around the country came of where many Jewish Sachnoff and the including the Jewish age during the era of anti-Vietnam War Jewish chapel for the environment that nuragitation. Unlike their own parents, vetersoldiers in our land, Second Day of Rosh tured them. Often, these ans of World War II, when 550,000 Jews Hashanah. An entire service personnel have served, some lying about their age so that been overseas for years, sea and air services generation of Temple they could be accepted into the army, this Israelites smiles and starts and hunger for contact humming on hearing the with the Jewish community. are stationed. . opening phrase of Cantor Whether enlisted ranks or offiSpectacular contemporary home with private back yard on the Lynnhaven River. Sachnoff’s rendition of the holicers, a good percentage of the Dramatic two story foyer and great room. Relax in over 5000 square feet including day prayer “hayom t’amtzenu.” Jews whose service brings them to huge master with fireplace and bay window overlooking trees. Potential in law suite. In 2013, our congregation inaugurated Norfolk find their way to our congregation, Extensive decking Convenient to all of Hampton Roads. LA K EwithShot Mtub. IT H and it is truly an honor to be their Jewish a Military Appreciation Shabbat. Our first Ready for you to enjoy! speaker was Rep. Scott Rigell, and we were home away from home. This all brick home I have had the personal honor of being treated to an inspiring message. Last year, overlooking serene the civilian rabbi to three of our Jewish we moved the service to the Shabbat just Lake Smith is bright navy chaplains, Rabbis Moe Kaprow, Seth prior to Veteran’s Day, and went in house and up-to-date. Phillips and Karen Soria, during their for our speaker with Nathan Brauner, New roof and windows. Tidewater assignments. They have enriched recently retired as a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Custom neighborhood our congregation. To cite only one example Air Force, discussing his mission in Iraq, convenient to all of for each of the many that come to mind, training the post-Saddam Hussein Iraqi Hampton Roads. Rabbi Kaprow filled in for me during my Air Force pilots. We agreed that, however period of mourning for my mother, officiat- nice it was to host dignitaries and elected ing on short notice at a bat mitzvah; Rabbi officials, we would henceforth spotlight our 5113 Crystal Point Drive Phillips spoke powerfully from the pulpit own members who were serving or had 5113 Crystal Point Drive $539,900 after his return from six months in the served in the military, because the authenMediterranean as the DESRON 2 chaplain, ticity and power of their message was not and Rabbi Soria enriched our services both to be missed. For this year, on Saturday, Nov. 7, we with her beautiful voice and keen theological creativity. Even rabbis need a rabbi, and turned to a military spouse, Miriam Blake, when those three rabbis needed a rabbi, it to offer her unique perspective on life as a was my good fortune to be able to serve. Jew in a military family. Janet Frenck, GRI Please remember to reach out to the “How goodly is my portion!” 757-439-4039 members of the military whenever you see I am not the first Rabbi Panitz to 757-439-4039 Howard Hanna William E Wood them and thank them for their service. have served in Tidewater—a half decade GRI Janet Frenck, 1321 Laskin Road,CRB, Virginia Beach, VA, 23451 janetfrenck@williamewood.com They are there for you. You be there for before my arrival in town, my brother janetfrenck@howardhanna.com William E. Wood & Associates Jonathan was the base chaplain at the them, too. 1321 Laskin Road • Virginia Beach by Rabbi Michael Panitz

W

generation tried to avoid military service. Again, unlike our Israeli cousins, for whom military service in Tzahal is an expectation, a duty embraced, and a badge of honor, very few American Jewish parents expect their children to put on the uniform of service to our country. The result is that a Jew in active duty can be a very lonely man, religiously. Moreover, for quite a few years now, the number of Jewish military chaplains serving in the various branches of the Armed Forces has been well under the recommended number. The repute of the military has ascended since the Vietnam Era, among American Jews as well as among Americans in general. Even in the 1970’s, some American Jews recognized that one could disagree with the American involvement in that war, while nonetheless respecting the men and women who served. But since the First Gulf War and especially since 9-11, it is far more

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26 | Jewish News | November 9, 2015 | Salute to the Military | jewishnewsva.org


MILITARY IHOP® thanks Veterans and Active Duty Military on Veteran’s Day Wednesday, Nov. 11, 7 am–7 pm

IHOP® restaurants will again honor the 22 million Veterans currently living in the United States and more than 1.3 million Armed Forces members currently serving in the military by offering them a free stack of Red, White and Blue pancakes on Veteran’s Day.

Participating IHOP restaurants will serve a stack of Red, White and Blue pancakes—buttermilk pancakes crowned with glazed strawberries, blueberry compote and whipped topping—free for Veterans and Active Duty

Military on Veteran’s Day. Veterans and Active Duty Military simply show proof of military service to receive their free pancakes. Proof includes: US Uniformed Services ID Card, US Uniformed Services Retired ID Card,

Current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES), veterans organization card (i.e. American Legion, VFW, etc.), photograph in U.S. military uniform, wearing uniform, DD214, military dog tags, and citation or commendation.

JEWISH WAR VETERANS of the United States of America Old Dominion Post #158 Adam Goldberg, Post Commander, 831-917-3996

Thi a h s hol g u iday season, journey thro

The oldest active veterans orga-

Magical World

nization in America, Jewish War Veterans brings together men and women with joint ties of a common heritage as Jews and a common experience as active duty or past members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

of Christmas characters, carolers, sweet treats, shops, games, activities &crafts!

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Half Moone Cruise & Celebration Center, lower level

Nov. 21- Dec. 27

Each Memorial Day, the group makes certain that flags are placed on the graves of Jewish U.S.

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Days and times vary nauticus.org. • (757) 664-1000

Veterans. Jewishnewsva.org | Salute to the Military | November 9, 2015 | Jewish News | 27


Providing compassionate end-of-life care enables families to be in the moment and enjoy time together.

Ev e ry ye ar i n th e Ti dewate r Jewi sh c o m m un i t y…

It takes a village. Our Village. Our rehabilitation team works with patients to regain strength, confidence and quality of life.

Life can be unpredictable, but the excellent care at Beth Sholom Village is not. In our third and final special report, learn the many ways we are serving the community. •

Hospice Care: Our sister agency, Freda H. Gordon Hospice and Palliative Care of Tidewater (HPCT), provides compassionate end-of-life care for our patients and their families. Being informed and educated about what options are available is very comforting for all involved. HPCT is a valuable source of relief in a difficult time so you can focus on embracing every moment.

Rehabilitation: The Lee H. and Helen Gifford Rehabilitation Pavilion serves skilled nursing residents and assisted living residents. Our short stay rehab patients typically come to us after a knee or hip replacement and while here, regain strength and mobility before returning home. Our tenured team, which includes physical, occupational and speech therapists, strives to achieve the highest quality of rehabilitation possible.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care: Alzheimer’s is the most well-known form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual disabilities serious enough to interfere with daily life.

We provide safety, comfort and excellent medical care to dementia patients who can no longer care for themselves.

It is a privilege to serve the talented residents at Beth Sholom Village in our stable, caring environment.

Our Sholom Unit at The Berger-Goldrich skilled nursing facility tends to residents with severe Alzheimer’s and dementia who can no longer care for themselves. The unit is designed and staffed to provide safety, comfort, security and high quality medical treatment with appropriate activities to encourage involvement in daily life.

The Memory Enhancement Unit at The Terrace Assisted Living has a homelike yet secure area for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia. It features a quiet and sunny environment with activities that include music as well as arts and crafts.

Health and Wellness Center: The Rose Frances and Bernard Glasser Health and Wellness Center promotes a safe and healthy lifestyle for residents, staff and the community. In collaboration with a doctor, the Center’s nurse practitioner works as primary care provider to treat both chronic and acute illnesses. The Center also offers regular checkups, flu shots and INR checks and conducts new hire drug screening for local employers.

(757) 420-2512

28 | Jewish News | November 9, 2015 | Salute to the Military | jewishnewsva.org

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