I think I’m not out of line in saying that surviving a stint in a Nazi concentration camp in WWII or holding a position against North Koreans single-handedly for 24 hours or surviving in Communist POW camp during the Korean war makes you a certified bad-ass. What if I told you a story about a guy who did all three? This is the true story of Tibor Rubin. Hungarian by birth, Jewish by faith, and American by choice. Let’s fucking go!!
Tibor Rubin was born in a small Jewish village in Hungary in 1929. His father, Ferenc, was a shoemaker who also just so happened to be a World War I hero that survived six years in a Russian Gulag POW camp. Unfortunately, by the time Supreme Ultra-Douche Hitler took power and rolled through Hungary in 1943, Ferenc’s Jewish identity outweighed his Valor even though he fought for the allies of Germany in WWI. Hitler decided that sending the entire Rubin family to Auschwitz and Buchenwald was the right move. Tibor Rubin's father, two sisters, and mother died in these concentration camps, and 13-year-old Tibor was forced to endure 14 grueling months of hell after being transferred to Mauthausen Concentration Camp. When the heinous death camp was liberated by American G.I.s in 1945, 15-year-old Tibor Rubin swore to repay the United States for rescuing him.
It took three years and a lot of effort, but Tibor finally emigrated to the US. He tried to enlist in the Army, but he failed because he wasn’t able to pass the reading portion. A year later, two other test takers helped him cheat on the exam, and Tibor was allowed to enlist in the US Army. He obviously enlisted right into the Infantry, cus why the fuck wouldn’t you? Shortly after graduating from Infantry school, the Army sent him to Korea to turn Communists into crow bait. I can only imagine Tibor grinning and saying something along the lines of “Let’s fucking do this.”
By July 1950, PFC “Ted” Rubin was a member of I Company, 8th Cav ,1st Cav Division. Besides the threat of Psychotic Commie Scum, he also had to deal with an enemy in his own ranks, an antisemitic 1SG Artice V. Watson who always referred to Rubin as “The Fucking Jew.” Remember this douche’s name cuz it’s important.
The Americans and South Koreans, badly outnumbered and frankly outclassed during the early stages of the war, were forced to retreat to a tiny perimeter around Pusan until reinforcements could arrive. The 1st Cav was tasked with holding the roads around Pusan as long as possible, which meant defending it at all costs against bloodthirsty North Korean troops, so that supplies, US troops, and refugees could be evacuated back into the city.
During this defense, Rubin was positioned atop a critical hill that provided overwatch on one of the MSRs into Pusan. After hours of sustained combat, nearly every other man in his squad was killed or wounded in what degenerated into brutal hand-to-hand combat with a massive human wave of NK troops. Watson ordered Ted Rubin to hold that position alone, while he and some other men fell back to safer positions. Ted probably cracked his knuckles and said “Fuck it.” He went full berserker mode, hurling grenade and after grenade before grabbing a .30-caliber M1919 Machine Gun and single-handedly defending the hill for over 24 hours... by himself.
He inflicted, as his award citation puts it, "a staggering number of casualties" on the enemy. This basically means he killed a metric fuckload of Commies but because he and his comrades killed a fuckton before his insane 24 hours defense, it was hard to tell how many he actually killed when he was holding them alone Rambo style. When reinforcements finally arrived to recon his location, they found Ted Rubin sitting on top of the hilltop next to his MG, empty ammo cans everywhere, and a pile of dead North Koreans that was taller than Rubin himself.
A week later, he decided that leading a batshit insane assault on North Korean positions was a good idea, and he captured over 100 North Koreans as EPWs. For the next four months, acts like these were considered normal for Tibor, who fought with a ferocity and bravery that few could match. In fact, his exploits were so ridiculously badass that two of his commanders nominated him for the Medal of Honor on four separate occasions, and nominated him for the Silver Star twice. Unfortunately, both of these officers were Killed In Action, but not before ordering his First Sergeant, Watson to write up the commendations. Some of Rubin’s comrades were present and witnessed the order being issued, and all were convinced that Watson deliberately ignored the order to draft up Rubin’s commendations after the commanders were killed. Instead, Watson kept sending Rubin on near-suicidal missions, often without any support. And time and time again, Rubin would not only survive but come back victorious. Let’s put it this way, Watson was such a Jew-hater that he once told a fellow NCO that he'd rather be court-martialed than see a Jew receive the Medal of Honor. These come from sworn affidavits of many of Rubin’s brothers-in-arms.
Well, after nearly four months of professionally curb-stomping commie nutsacks all over Korea, Tibor Rubin and his 150-man company were assaulted by a 5,000 man brigade of die-hard Chinese infantry. Rubin once again unleashed his inner war mongering abilities and grabbed a.30 cal machine gun after three other soldiers who were manning the gun were wounded, repositioned the weapon, and started blasting everything he could see with a wall of supersonic ballistic death. He was badly wounded by shrapnel and shot a couple of times, as the commies targeted his position, but Rubin kept firing until he ran out of bullets, got blown up with a grenade, and was knocked unconscious. He, along with approximately 40 of his comrades, was captured and sent to the brutal Chinese Pukching POW camp in Pyoktong, North Korea. It was known as “Death Valley” by the Americans. These men were deprived of food, medical care, and common human decency and were subjected to horrifying conditions trapped in small, square cells in freezing temperature without basic provisions or cold-weather clothing. Every day men died of malnutrition, disease, or the bitter cold. But out of all the men in the POW hell, Tibor had experienced this before. He knew how to survive and keep his morale up and he taught these techniques to his brothers-in-arms.
Now here’s the crazy part, the Chinese and North Koreans found out that Rubin was Hungarian, which was by this point part of the USSR, so they offered him his freedom to be sent to Hungary. Rubin told his captors to pound sand. Tibor quickly found a way to escape from the prison but he knew there’d be two consequences. He’d most likely get captured, and his comrades would probably pay for his escape. So instead of breaking out and making a run for it, he did something completely fucking insane. He broke out of the Prison camp, snuck past armed guards, searchlights and guard towers, and broke into Communist supply depots for food and supplies like penicillin and other medical necessities and broke back INTO the concentration camp to take care of his less fortunate soldiers.
HE DID THIS NEARLY EVERY DAY FOR ALMOST TWO YEARS. He went out at night, knowing full well that a single mistake would cost him his life, and collected the necessary resources to keep his boys alive. He used his knowledge to collect plants growing around the camp for various medicinal properties. He fed, nursed, and even carried the weaker ones to the latrines by day while being a badass Jewish robin hood at night.
After nearly two years of hellish conditions, Rubin and nearly 40 of his men were released into US custody. Every single man claimed that Tibor’s selfless actions and relentlessly positive attitude were what kept them alive and gave them hope during those horrific years. After coming back to the US, he quietly worked in his brother's Long Beach liquor store and volunteered at the Long Beach Veterans Hospital, where he put in over 20,000 hours of volunteer work.
All that time, the men he rescued continually pushed for Rubin to get some kind of official recognition by the US government for all the lives he saved and took in Korea between 1950 and 1953. Their calls and letters went unanswered for decades until 2001, when Congress directed the military to further review certain case regarding opened up an inquiry into discrimination in the awarding of medals, read all the reports from the C.O.'s about Rubin's bravery, read all the letters from the GI's in the camps, and basically said: “Oh fuck, we need to award this guy ASAP”. In 2005, President George W. Bush presented the Medal of Honor to Rubin in a ceremony at the White House. Now, most people who get awarded a Medal of Honor have a single date or a short set of days where their actions were noted to have been above and beyond the call of duty, Tibor Rubin’s Medal of Honor Citations says “July 23, 1950, to April 20, 1953”... which is damn near the length of the entire Korean War.
It was an award long overdue. Tibor died on December 5, 2015, at his home in Garden Grove.
A Warrior, a Savior, and a true American.
About the author: Andy, is a US Army Infantryman and your local Friendly Neighborhood Rooftop Korean. When he's not burning through his savings at the range, you can find him online sharing memes, playing video games, and writing stories about the baddest warriors throughout history. You can follow all of Andy's NSFW content at @call_me_ak on Instagram.