David Bull Gurfein - Jewish Dog Tags
David Bull Gurfein - First Gulf War 3
David Bull Gurfein - First Gulf War 2

MY JEWISH DOG TAGS

Being of a Jewish Father and a Protestant Mother, I know Torah law does not recognize me as being Jewish. However, it is hard to deny my Jewish heritage with:

  1. A Jewish Father: US Marine Corps Captain – WWII in the Pacific
  2. A Jewish Uncle: US Army Colonel – WWII, Korea, Vietnam
  3. A Jewish Nephew: IDF and US Marine Corps Major – Afghanistan, Iraq
  4. A Jewish Half-Brother: Rabbi who lives in Jerusalem
  5. Jewish Nephews, and Grand-Nephews/Nieces who live in Israel
  6. Hundreds of Gurfeins murdered during WWII simply for being Jewish
  7. Yacov Gurfein: Survived extermination by jumping from a train headed to Sobibor Death Camp and testified at the Nuremberg Trials  (http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/revolt/sobijumper.html)
  8. Murray Gurfein: Federal Judge and US Army Lt. Colonel who served as a prosecuting attorney at the Nuremberg Trials

Prior to engaging in combat during the First Gulf War, all the Jewish U.S. Marines were afforded an opportunity to replace their “Dog Tags” with ones that did not have JEWISH embossed on them. This was out of concern for the Jews being subjected to extreme torture if captured.

I had no intention of being captured alive!  Moreover, I felt it would be hypocritical if I were to embrace “the pride of belonging” when it was convenient and then be unwilling to assume the “guilt-by-association” when faced with imminent danger.

Finally, recalling the story of how Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego chose to be thrown into a Babylonian furnace rather than to forsake God, as we, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, led the attack through burning oil wells, the irony was blatantly obvious.

JEWISH proudly and unwaveringly remained on my “Dog Tags” for 25 years and remains a part of my identity to this day… for better or worse.

SEMPER CHAI!

Notes:

  1. Photo #1, My “Dog Tag” which contain my last name (GURFEIN), first & middle initial (D.H.), blood type (O NEG), Social Security # (blurred out), branch of service – US Marine Corps (USMC), gas mask size (M), religious preference (JEWISH).
  2. Photo #2 Me atop a destroyed Iraqi tank.
  3. Photo #3 Heading into the burning oil fields during the initial assault.
David “Bull” Gurfein is a Retired member of the United States Marine Corps Reserve.
Use of his military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the Special Operations Command, the Marine Corps, the Department of the Navy, or the Department of Defense.