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Raymond Zussman (July 23, 1917 ‚?? September 21, 1944) was a United States Army officer and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration‚??the Medal of Honor‚??for his actions in World War II.
Biography. He was born July 23, 1917 in Hamtramck, Michigan and he joined the Army from Detroit, Michigan. By September 12, 1944 he was serving as a second lieutenant, commanding tanks of the 756th Tank Battalion. On that day, during a battle in the city of Noroy-le-Bourg, France, Zussman repeatedly went forward alone to scout enemy positions and exposed himself to enemy fire while directing his tank's action. He survived the battle but was killed nine days later. On May 24, 1945, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Noroy-le-Bourg.
Zussman died September 21, 1944 at age 27 and was buried in Machpelah Cemetery, Ferndale, Michigan.
Medal of Honor citation. Second Lieutenant Zussman's official Medal of Honor citation reads:
On 12 September 1944, 2d Lt. Zussman was in command of 2 tanks operating with an infantry company in the attack on enemy forces occupying the town of Noroy le Bourg, France. At 7 p.m., his command tank bogged down. Throughout the ensuing action, armed only with a carbine, he reconnoitered alone on foot far in advance of his remaining tank and the infantry. Returning only from time to time to designate targets, he directed the action of the tank and turned over to the infantry the numerous German soldiers he had caused to surrender. He located a road block and directed his tanks to destroy it. Fully exposed to fire from enemy positions only 50 yards distant, he stood by his tank directing its fire. Three Germans were killed and 8 surrendered. Again he walked before his tank, leading it against an enemy-held group of houses, machinegun and small arms fire kicking up dust at his feet. The tank fire broke the resistance and 20 enemy surrendered. Going forward again alone he passed an enemy-occupied house from which Germans fired on him and threw grenades in his path. After a brief fire fight, he signaled his tank to come up and fire on the house. Eleven German soldiers were killed and 15 surrendered. Going on alone, he disappeared around a street corner. The fire of his carbine could be heard and in a few minutes he reappeared driving 30 prisoners before him. Under 2d Lt. Zussman's heroic and inspiring leadership, 18 enemy soldiers were killed and 92 captured.
In the City of Hamtramck there is a park called Zussman Park. It is located right across the street from Hamtramck City Hall at 3401 Evaline Ave. I believe Zussman Park is bounded by Evaline Ave. and Yemans St on the south and north; and, Winfield and Falcon Sts. on the west and east. There is not a marker, sign or memorial plaque of any sort saying it is Zussman Park.
Built for the Army FS-246, was later renamed by the Army as Lieutenant Raymond Zussman, and eventually turned over to NOAA which used her as the Penguin II.¬†¬† "FS"¬†stands for "Freight and Supply."
From: Second Lieutenant Raymond Zussman -- Congressional Medal of Honor by Emanuel Applebaum.¬† Full citation below in the sources.
On June 9, 1945 the Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously to Second Lt. Raymond Zussman.¬†The presentation was made by Major General Charles L. Scott, Commanding General of the Armored Center at Fort Knox, to Mr. Nathan Zussman, Raymond's elderly father, then 76 years old.¬†Only 292 out of a total of over 10,000,000 men who served in all branches of the armed services of the United States were given the nation's highest award for valor -- the Congressional Medal of Honor.¬†Six of these men came from Detroit and Lt. Zussman was one of these men.
Lt. Raymond Zussman's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Zussman had 8 children, four sons, and four daughters.¬†Abraham, the eldest son had also been a Captain in the United Sates Army and had served during World War I and was wounded in action.¬†Abraham passed away at Dearborn's [Michigan] Veteran's Hospital only one week before Raymond was killed in action.
The father, Nathan passed away April 9, 1949 at age 84 after having lived in Detroit over 45 years.¬†Nathan had been a soldier in Czarist Russia and had seen action in the Russo-Japanese war.
The mother, Rebecca Leah who died in 1938 at age 68, was born in Lithuania.¬†She married Nathan before they came to the United States at the turn of the century.
Raymond, the youngest, was considered a bright, good natured, happy-go-lucky youngster by those who knew him, with a great talent of getting along with all people.
He was born July 23, 1917 in his father's home at 9144 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck where for over a quarter of a century Mr. Nathan Zussman operated a shoe store.¬†When Ray, as many called him, entered the army he was only 5 feet, four inches tall and weighed less than 140 pounds.¬†Board shouldered, healthy, fairly husky, and rather fair haired.
When he entered the army he thought the war would not last very long, and that he would not be away for too many years.
"You look after Rags," he said to his father as he left (Rags was his puppy sheep-dog), "he's my pal and he's going to be a great dog."¬†Some six years later Benjamin Glicker, Detroit artist did a memorial portrait of Lt. Zussman and it was reported that when Rags saw the portrait he ran to it, lay down near it, and would not budge the entire day.
Raymond was a graduate of Durfey Intermediate and of Central High School of Detroit.¬†Basketball, tennis and track were what he considered his sports, though he would have loved to play football but because of his size couldn't make the High School team.
He attended night sessions at Wayne University and had also attended classes at the Detroit Institute of Technology where he studied metallurgy.
Raymond was 23 years old when he entered the army on September 24, 1941.¬†He first went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for basic training and later to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he attended the class of Armored Officers School, from which he graduated as a Second Lieutenant on January 9, 1943.¬†He also served as a tank instructor for 6 months before receiving his commission as Lt.¬†After being commissioned he shipped to Africa in June 1943.
After he was wounded at Cassino, Italy, and recovered, he was offered a Headquarters assignment which he promptly rejected.¬†He asked for combat duty and was assigned to a tank division, mechanized cavalry, with the 7th army in France.¬†It was for action in combat on September 12, 1944 that he won the nation's highest award for valor when in an hour he led in the capture of 92 German soldiers and the killing of 18 which resulted in liberating the village of Noroy Le Bourg in the Rhone Valley.¬†It was in combat, while resting, that a mortar exploded near him that cost him his life in France.¬†He died on September 21, 1944 at 26 years of age, nine days after the action in battle that won him the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously, the highest honor that the United States of America can bestow on its war heroes.
He was also authorized the Purple Heart (posthumous); Purple Heart for wounds received in action on 11 September 1944 in France; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars for the Southern France and Rhineland Campaigns; Good Conduct Medal; American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; and World War II Victory Medal.
When given his son's Medal of Honor at the Graduation exercises of the 75th class of the Officers Candidates School of the Armored School of Fort Knox, Kentucky on June 9, 1945, Mr. Nathan Zussman in response said:
¬†¬†¬†¬† "Major General Scott and Graduates of this Class: It is indeed with great pride that I appear before this graduating class, for several years ago, I too, had a son who was commissioned in this same training center, and I looked to him with great pride just as your parents are looking forward to you and your accomplishments.¬†A pride to think that you have a son duly qualified to take his just place with our Armed Forces, for a Country which they are so devoted to, for the protection of the rights which our people stand for.¬†While I have come here with great pride, I still come with a heavy heart, having given a son for the freedom which I sought, years ago having left a country where the people were oppressed by the yokes of oppression and prejudice, and sought freedom and liberty, which I have enjoyed in this Country for the past forty-five years.
¬†¬†¬†¬† "During the Forty-five years that I have enjoyed the freedom and liberty of this Country, it has made me indeed grateful and proud to think that I have been able to give a son to this great cause that that he, my son, with his indomitable courage, and with the thought ever in his mind of my leaving a country of oppression, to seek the freedom of this Country -- fought to preserve them and was awarded the highest honors that could be bestowed by this, Our Country, for his bravery in action.
¬†¬†¬†¬† "My son, 'Ray,' died just as he always lived, fighting for what he felt was right and just."
On June 6, 1949, Lt. Zussman was finally laid to rest at the Veterans' Section of Machpellah Cemetery.¬†Nathan Zussman originally had requested a simple traditional Jewish funeral and ceremony, to be arranged.¬†However, Arthur M. Lang, of Detroit, Chairman of the local Jewish War Veterans' Re-burial Committee, explained to the family that it would be fitting for the occasion to also accord Lt. Zussman military honors, being that he had been the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
This was arranged at Congregation Sharrey Zedek in the main sanctuary where the casket lay in state for 3 hours, flanked by a military honor guard.¬†The city of Detroit had wanted to have the body lie in state at City hall, but this the Zussman family had refused to permit.¬†The Department of the Army had wanted to provide a caisson and a guard to transport the casket from Congregation Shaarey Zedek on West Chicago to Machpelah Cemetery on Woodward and 8 1/2 Mile Road.¬†All these elaborate plans were refused by the elderly father, who grieved sorely for his youngest child.¬†When the casket was lowered into the grave close to 1500 people were present together with high ranking officers and a military drill team of the Charles A. Learned Post Number 1, of the American Legion, and the Zussman Post of the Jewish War Veterans of America.¬†Airplanes from Selfridge Field flew overhead and dipped their wings and dropped flowers as Cantor Sonenklar changed the traditional Jewish memorial prayers, and the family recited a sacred prayer at the grave -- the Kaddish.