Jewish War Veterans Jewish War Veterans Cherry Hill NJ Mon, 14 Aug 2017 10:22:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Film captures WWII experience of SJ vet Sun, 19 Jun 2016 12:26:39 +0000 Continue reading →]]> 635895991982721168-Seltzer-receives-Bronze-Star-from-COl-.-Jeffrey-Doll-ASA-commander-at-Dix-side-of-Joint-Base-in-2012CHERRY HILL – Sitting in an easy chair in front of a video camera and interviewers, Jewish war veteran Arthur Seltzer demonstrated remarkable recall for his 90 years.

Unfazed by cameras and questions, the never-shy Seltzer eagerly recounted his World War II memories in vivid detail — from his U.S. Army training and Atlantic crossing to England on the cruise liner-converted troop ship Queen Elizabeth to his three most significant war events, the D-Day beach landing at Normandy, the Battle of Bulge and the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau in Germany.

South Jersey-based Armed Forces Heritage Museum (AFHM) officials taped a documentary last year and expect to post it shortly on the museum website. They said it also will become part of the newly modernized exhibit collection at the National Museum of American Jewish Military History in Washington, D.C.

Recently, an expanded version of the documentary that includes more Seltzer family history was shown for the first time to the now 91-year-old Seltzer, family members, other Jewish war veterans and friends in the theater of Spring Hill Assisted Living Center in Cherry Hill, where Seltzer and his wife, Mildred, of 61 years moved this year from their nearby Cherry Hill condo.

“I’m overwhelmed by it. And it was a surprise. They didn’t tell me it was going to be shown today,” Seltzer said of the living history project professionally compiled and edited by AFHM president Robert Von Bargen and Nino DePasquale, a  museum board member and its former president who owns a video company.

“I hope it will get more people involved in doing good things for the country.”

Seltzer was a 20-year-old corporal serving as a radio operator in a forward position with the 4th Armored Signal Battalion, shuttling messages back and forth to rear units, to military leaders such as Gen. George S. Patton and to Supreme Allied Headquarters. He was one of more than 550,000 U.S. servicemen during the war who were Jewish.

His radio equipment, then called VHF, was a secret weapon of its own with a much advanced technology, allowing telephones and teletypes to operate without wire connections.

“Landing at Omaha Beach on D-Day was the longest day of my life,” he said.

He made it ashore in the fourth wave on June 6, 1944, by jumping over the side of his landing craft unlike other soldiers who headed straight down the front ramp of other landing crafts. They were easily gunned down by German guns ashore before making it to the beach.

However, he sank immediately after hitting the water, but not because he was wounded.

“I couldn’t swim, so down I went — and then I dropped my 65-pound pack of gear,”  he recalls in the video. He struggled to shore, where wet sand prevented him from digging a foxhole. Instead, he hid behind the only protection he could find — dead soldiers — and waited for more radio equipment to arrive.

“Of the 36 soldiers on our landing craft, I was one of only two who survived,” recalled Seltzer.

Eventually, he sent a radio message for battleship firepower to blow a hole in the bluff — Point Du Hoc — that Army Rangers were ordered to climb. “If we didn’t get that done, we were not going to make it off the beach.”

Naval gunfire then blew open a gaping hole followed by additional firing from the 29th Infantry, allowing troops to move forward to the town of St. Lo.

Seltzer said operating his radio had one critical disadvantage. “Whenever I put up the 9-foot antenna, the Germans could zero in on our position,” he said.

His most vivid memories of the Battle of the Bulge, where the Allies were outnumbered by the Germans in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium, France and Luxembourg, were the frigid temperatures, the absence of winter-issued uniforms and the trees. He said the flying splinters from trees shattered by gunfire killed soldiers as effectively as bullets. He managed to escape a German SS firing squad when he found himself at the rear of an enemy-surrounded group of 150 Allied soldiers who were forced to surrender, thinking they would be taken as prisoners. They were shot instead.

That battle, a German offensive to try to split the Allies, was the largest fought on the Western Front in Europe during the war and also the largest ever fought by the U.S. Army.

After successfully defending Bastogne and crossing the Rhine River into Germany and then crossing the Elbe River, they met the Russian allies, who were to march into Berlin first. “I knew when we crossed the Elbe the war would be over.”

However, there was one final and horrific experience awaiting him after the official end of the war in May 1945.

His unit was among those who stumbled upon the main camp at Dachau, 10 miles north of Munich.

“It was the first time we knew of concentration camps. What we saw was enough to turn your stomach,” he said.

Seltzer was then with 20th Armored Division troops who thought they were discovering a prisoner of war facility on April 29, 1945. Instead, they found a camp piled high with the tangled bodies of prisoners and mass graves, as well as 31,000 to 32,000 others still alive but starving and emaciated.

Seltzer was one of the troops ordered by Supreme Allied Commander Gen.Dwight Eisenhower to take photos to document the horrible discovery, which haunted Seltzer in nightmares for years despite his efforts to forget.

Five years ago he retraced his war steps on a six-country, 16-day tour — this time with his wife — from England to France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and finally to Germany, a trip he said closed his war chapter by seeing what those countries have become today.

“He was most stunned by the eerie quiet at Dachau, where he broke down in tears, and by the changes at Omaha Beach.

“It didn’t look at all the same,” he observed about the beach. “There is a road there now and motels where the German machine guns were.”

At Dachau he remembered the “smell of death” that had permeated the camp that August day in 1945.

Reflecting on the war as a whole, Seltzer said if it wasn’t for the Air Force, the war would not have been won.

“Soldiers were always looking to the sky to see if our bombers were there,” he remembered.

Seltzer did not wait around after the war was over for his Bronze Star for staying behind during a retreat and blowing up his radio equipment during the Battle of the Bulge so it would not end up in enemy hands.. He did not receive it until 67 years later in 2012 after his former commander, retired Brig Gen. Harold Rice of California,  contacted him and wrote the documentqtion needed for the military decoration.

A former commander of the Jewish War Veterans, Furer-Brag-Wolf Post 126 in Cherry Hill, and past state commander of the Jewish War Veterans, Seltzer took on a mission to educate school students in his later years. He also is a longtime member of Cherry Hill’s Memorial Day Committee.

The heritage museum is collecting memorabilia from local veterans and is working on a mobile museum exhibit it will unveil for use this spring and until it can build a world-class museum, possibly on the perimeter of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

“We are hoping to do more videos like this,” said military retiree Nelson Mellitz, a member of the museum board and also a director of the Washington museum. “It will eventually appear on our website — — along with three other videos of war veterans that are already finished and we’ll also post it on YouTube.

The other videos on its website are of Robert Yancey of Florence, an Army veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War; Frank Marshall of Mount Laurel, an Army veteran of the VIetnam War, and Air Force Col. J. Olaf Holm, an Afghanistan veteran who also served at the Joint Base.

Norman Rosenshein, also a director at the Washington museum near Dupont Circle, said he has known Seltzer for several decades through the state Jewish War Veterans, Department of New Jersey.

“He has fascinating stories and had a more interesting military life compared to many soldiers. As soon as I heard about the documentary, we said ‘yes’ to accepting it and will include it in our museum’s new World War II exhibit section,” said Rosenshine, a former Elizabeth, Union County, resident who now lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

At the Spring Hill Assisted Living theater, several of Seltzer’s children and grandchildren watched the documentary with him.

Son Richard of Marlton called the film “tremendous” and used the same word to describe his father as a person.

“We never knew these stories for a long time because he didn’t tell until we had our own kids,” he said.

Cherry HIll Councilwoman Melinda Kane presented Seltzer with a council proclamation declaring him a “true American hero” not just for his war service but for serving in veterans organizations to preserve their legacy and for his educational efforts in speaking to local high school students about his experiences.

“Arthur is worthy of every word in this proclamation,” said Kane.”And the video was fascinating and educational.”

Cherry Hill High School East teacher Tom Rosenberg praised Seltzer for speaking to more than 700 of his history class students over the past 10 years.

“He is an invaluable resource and told students what no book could ever teach. He is honored and beloved by all who know him,”  Rosenberg said.

Carol comegno; (856) 486-2473;

World War II veterans honored Sun, 05 Jul 2015 13:40:16 +0000 Continue reading →]]> FullSizeRender.jpgCHERRY HILL – More than two dozen World War II veterans were honored Wednesday with a luncheon at the Cherry Hill Public library.

The library, its friends organization, Cherry Hill American Legion Post 372 and Furer-Barag-Wolf Post 126, Jewish War Veterans, co-sponsored the event.

The oldest veteran attending was John Kane, 96, who was raised in the township. He was a telephone communications technician in the European theater from 1943 to 1945 during World War II, which ended 70 years ago.

Keynote speaker Sen. James Beach, D-Camden, son of World War II veteran Francis Beach, urged the veterans to tell their stories in writing or via a video interview because his dad has rarely said a word about his service in the Pacific, including in the Battle of Iwo Jima.

“I would urge you to tell your children and grandchildren because one day they will want to know your stories,” he said.

The library has recorded stories of local veterans in video interviews as an oral history project. They are viewable at at

Sue Quinn-Morris of American Legion Post 372 also has many recorded video interview for the Library of Congress Veterans Oral History Project – some of which are from Jewish War Veterans Post 126. Contact Sue at if interested in viewing.

Photos below courtesy of Sue Quinn-Morris.

[See image gallery at]


BATTLESHIP NJ HOSTS THANKSGIVING MEAL FOR TROOPS Fri, 28 Nov 2014 14:14:12 +0000 Continue reading →]]>

By Kenneth Moton
Thursday, November 27, 2014 06:00PM
CAMDEN, N.J. (WPVI) — Treated like the heroes they are, military men and women received quite a welcome aboard the Battleship New Jersey this Thanksgiving.

“I’m looking out at these wonderful young faces and saying with great gratitude, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Camden County Surrogate Pat Jones.

Many taking part in the holiday feast have served this country in the past. Others are still protecting it.

So for the tenth straight year, Camden County honored homeless veterans and active duty military from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst with a meal on this holiday.

“We had troops coming from our joint bases that we surprised,” said NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney. “They had no idea what was going on. (It’s) just to let them know there are people who really do appreciate their service to this country.”

“It’s a tremendous turnout today from a number of volunteers and dignitaries and the troops and servicemen and veterans,” said Camden Mayor Dana Redd. “And it’s just coming together as one big family.”

We saw that firsthand as they lined up below deck of this decorated World War II battleship and filled those plates.

In the mess hall, we found Airman Kevin Michael Duffy, his wife, who also serves, and their son.

“I’ve spent a few times overseas deployed away from my family, so it means a lot to me to be supported by the local community and my family here to be able to do that,” he said.

But there were others, including several Army reservists, who were away from their home states and their families. They are just weeks away from deploying.

“Honestly, it’s a little difficult being away from my family at this time,” Sgt. David Moore told Action News. “But I am happy to be with my battle buddies and my leaders. So I think just having a positive attitude is what it’s all about.”

Even Philadelphia 76ers guard Jason Richardson was here to help and say ‘thank you.’

The feast fit for the troops was made possible by the Philadelphia 76ers and other local groups, including Marshall Spevak’s family.

“This is the greatest day of my year, to give back to those who have given to us,” Spevak said. “There’s no greater honor for me as an American to support those in uniform.”

And to walk off that big meal, many of those military men and women who were honored took a tour of the historic battleship – definitely a treat on this Thanksgiving holiday.

Memorial Day 2014 photos Sat, 07 Jun 2014 09:38:25 +0000 Continue reading →]]> A few photos from Memorial Day 2014

Photos – Thanksgiving at the Battleship 2013 Mon, 02 Dec 2013 09:08:53 +0000 Continue reading →]]> Photos from Thanksgiving at the Battleship 2013. These photos are a collection from various sources. More to follow.

[See image gallery at] ]]>
Turkey Dinner Aboard Battleship New Jersey Gives Thanks To Those That Serve Sat, 30 Nov 2013 11:16:36 +0000 Continue reading →]]>

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) – An annual Thanksgiving dinner for active military and veterans in the region got a new home this year — aboard the Battleship New Jersey, on Camden’s waterfront.

An honor guard of flag-waving bikers and music by mummers greeted combined forces from McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Dover Air Force Base, as they boarded the ship for a traditional meal. Warm “thank you’s” and a trays of hot food welcomed former and current military members

“I was rather impressed with the number of people they had here and the people that support us,” says U-S Army Reserves specialist Asa Sanders, whose wife and child are back in Texas.

Many of the homeless veterans in attendance were organized by the Volunteers for America homeless shelter.

“It was just humbling coming up that gang plank today and people thanking you. I was getting all choked up because nobody ever did that,” says Navy veteran Leonard Moore, who knows how difficult it can be holding down a job with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Petty officer Eric Parks was spending his third Thanksgiving deployed, and welcomed the chance to break bread with his comrades:

“The family that I miss at home, the one that cares for me back there, I’ve still got my family here, I’ve got my brethren here, I’ve got marines, sailors, soldiers here that are part of my immediate family here so, yeah, you miss the home life, but you also have your military life and I really appreciate it, I do,” he said.

Brian Farrell was spending his last Thanksgiving away from home:

“I’m demobilizing. This is my fourth combat tour and I’m getting ready to go home.”

The annual meal is an outpouring of love, according to organizer Marshall Spevak:

“People hear about it, they just want to come out and be thankful and help serve those who’ve served us,” he said.

The Spevak Family, which has been throwing the event for more than a decade, joined forces with numerous sponsors, including Camden County Veterans Affairs and the Camden Board of Chosen Freeholders.

“We recognize the courage, the bravery – what you do for us to make us the greatest country in the world,” says NJ Senate President Steven Sweeney, who was among the dignitaries in attendance.

Turkey Dinner Aboard Battleship New Jersey Gives Thanks To Those That Serve

Video from Thanksgiving on Battleship for active Military & Homeless Vets Sat, 30 Nov 2013 11:09:08 +0000 Continue reading →]]>

Thanskgiving Table Set Aboard Battleship New Jersey Sun, 24 Nov 2013 11:19:19 +0000 Continue reading →]]> November 24, 2013 – CHERRY HILL, N.J. (CBS) — A nearly decade-long Thanksgiving tradition is coming to an end in New Jersey, but a new one is taking its place.

For nine years the Spevak family of Cherry Hill and the Jewish War Veterans Post 126 have hosted a surprise Thanksgiving dinner for the military men and women who were away from home waiting for their overseas orders at Joint Base Fort Dix.

Those numbers have dwindled due to the drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Marshall SpevakSon Marshall Spevak says Thanksgiving Plan B is ready.

We’re going to be having this right aboard the USS New Jersey,” he says, “on the deck in the banquet room.”

The guests of honor, along with military from the area, will include homeless vets and their families.

“Much in the same spirit of caring for those who have served us,” Spevak says.

He says they’re counting on the flag wavers to return. There will be free parking in Camden. People are being asked to come out at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

The 25-year-old Spevak has been part of this Thanksgiving event since his teens and says he’s glad it is continuing for a tenth year.

Thanskgiving Table Set Aboard Battleship New Jersey

Motorcycle Line & Greeter/Flag Line for Thanksgiving on Battleship Sat, 23 Nov 2013 11:42:18 +0000 Continue reading →]]>

While the Annual Thanksgiving for the Troops held at the Americas Best Value Inn was canceled this year due to the winding down of troop deployments from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, in it’s place, there now will be a Thanksgiving Meal on the Battleship New Jersey for over 200 veterans, active military and also homeless veterans!

Please join us in providing a Flag/Greeting Line and Motorcycle Line on the Pier at the Battleship NJ. All WELCOME! The Greeting/Flag Line must be in place on the Pier no later then 10:30am, as our veterans/active military guests are due to arrive at 10:45am. (Arrive early for snacks and see the Mummers!). There will be a brief ceremony at 11am on the Fantail.

Parking – Lot 2 (FREE PARKING), which is diagonal from the Susquehanna Bank Center. There will be a shuttle service from the parking lot to the Pier for those who want to use it.

Motorcycle Riders should meet in Parking Lot 2 at 10am. Riders will depart for the Pier at 10:20am. Riders will proceed to the Pier on the Battleship to form a motorcycle and flag line, alongside the Greeters (who are not on motorcycles).

**Anyone who needs handicap access should enter via Clinton St., the access road to the Battleship that runs behind the Susquehanna Bank Center. They can tell the security guard at the gate that they need parking close to the Battleship’s pier. They will recieve prefered parking. **

Brought to you by Patriot Connections. . Email:


Presented by The Board of Trustees for the Battleship New Jersey, Camden County Veterans Affairs, and Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders

DATE: Thursday, November 28, 2013 (Thanksgiving Day)

TIME: 10:30am – 1:00pm

PLACE: Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial, 62 Battleship Place, Camden Waterfront, NJ 08103

DETAILS: The Battleship New Jersey, in partnership with Camden County Veterans Affairs and the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders, will offer homeless veterans and active military personnel from Joint Base – McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Dover Air Force Base a full-course turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. The meal will be served by volunteers in the Battleship’s crew’s mess (onboard cafeteria).

Questions? Jack Willard 856-966-1652 ext. 144

MAJOR SPONSORS include JWV Post 126, The Spevak Family, US Family Health Plan, Barb’s Harley Davidson, Philadelphia 76ers, Bodek & Rhoads, David Fleisher and Family, Gary “G” Cobb, PJ Whelihan’s

Berthed on the Camden Waterfront across the Delaware River from Center City Philadelphia, the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial is a non-profit historic ship museum that offers tours daily, as well as overnight encampments for youth groups and families, special group and student tours and event rentals with a full catering menu. For more information on the ship’s many programs, visit


Thanksgiving for the Troops Moves to Battleship NJ Fri, 22 Nov 2013 11:22:31 +0000 Continue reading →]]> A longstanding tradition in Cherry Hill won’t happen this year, but local veterans groups are still holding a turkey day feast for their own

For the first time in a decade, the annual Thanksgiving for the troops dinner put on by the Spevak family and Jewish War Veterans Post 126 at the Palace of Asia has been canceled—but not for lack of support.

With deployments from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst winding down, there just wasn’t a need for a huge event this year, post Commander Perry Levine said in a statement.

“Hosting and entertaining over 2,500 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who were apart from their families while defending our great nation has been a great honor,” he said. “In 2014, we will reevaluate the need to provide entertainment and a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for our troops that has made South Jersey proud these past nine years.”

Though that event may be off, it doesn’t mean there won’t be any effort to recognize veterans this year—the Spevaks and Post 126 are helping to support an effort put on by the Battleship New Jersey and the Camden County freeholders on Thanksgiving morning.

Volunteers will offer active-duty personnel from the Joint Base, as well as homeless veterans in the area, a full-course meal in the battleship’s crew mess.

“We feel that offering these brave men and women a hot Thanksgiving meal with all of the trimmings is the very least we can do to express our gratitude for their service to our country,” said freeholder Ed McDonnell, liaison to Camden County’s Office of Veterans Affairs. “Their faithful duty to our nation makes us all truly thankful for these heroes on this holiday.”

Locals who want to turn out to help welcome veterans and active-duty personnel can gather at 10:30 a.m. at the battleship. Free parking will be available in Lot 2, across from the Susquehanna Bank Center.

Cherry Hill councilwoman Melinda Kane encouraged anyone who’s available to come out and say thanks.

“It’s a great way to spend the holiday and really be thankful for what we have,” she said.