The incredible saga of an American hero who lived in obscurity for over 50 years.
Single Handed is the true story of Tibor "Teddy" Rubin, the only Holocaust survivor to have been awarded the Medal of Honor. It’s a vivid, one of a kind journey that spans 80 years, two wars and three continents, filled with selfless acts of bravery, endless fortitude, and surprising humor. (Story continues below the slideshow)
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When Tibor was 13, he was taken prisoner by the Nazis and sent to the notorious Mauthausen concentration camp. He barely survived 14 months of hard labor and starvation. After three post-war years in displaced persons’ limbo, a dream came true: he was permitted to enter the US.
A little more than a year later, the grateful immigrant enlisted in the Army, even though he barely spoke English. When fighting broke out on the Korean peninsula, Tibor declined an offer of alternative service to stay with his fellow trainees. But before they were dispatched for combat, a virulent anti-Semite became the company’s master sergeant.
The master sergeant assigned Private Rubin to more than his share of hazardous duty. Tibor accepted without complaint, and when he was left alone on a hill to guard an important ammunition dump, single-handedly defended it against hundreds of marauding North Koreans. A few weeks later, he defied orders to rescue a fellow GI who had been left for dead on a battlefield,. When a machine gun crew went down in heavy fire Tibor took over and held off a wave of enemy soldiers. In spite of these and other acts of selfless courage, his master sergeant denied Tibor the recognition he had earned.
After his battalion was decimated in “the Little Big Horn of Korea,” Tibor was sent to a Chinese-run prison camp on the Yalu River. During the coldest winter in 100 years, when many fellow POW’s perished, Tibor used the skills he’d acquired in Mauthausen to steal food for his starving buddies, treat the sick and wounded, and later, to openly defy his Communist captors, even after they offered to send him back to his native Hungary.
For more than 30 years after the war, Teddy Rubin lived in complete obscurity until a handful of his buddies, who believed that he had perished in Korea, mounted a passionate campaign to right the wrongs of his former master sergeant and to see that he was honored for his countless acts of heroism. It took 25 years and an act of Congress, but in 2005, at the age of 76, Tibor Rubin finally received our highest military distinction, the Medal of Honor.
Mauthuasen concentration camp.
Tibor was only 14 when he was captured and sent to this unforgiving fortress, where POWs and enemies of the German state are told that they will never leave..
The massive main plaza
Prisoners are routinely stripped naked for inspection. Often they witness random executions, that can occur at the merest whim of SS or Nazi brass.
Miklos, Emery and Tibor Rubin, 1947
The three brothers and two sisters survive the Holocaust; their parents and youngest sister do not.
Tibor volunteeres for Korea in 1950
Tibor is attached to the 1st Cavalry division. Many are unprepared when the war begins. Vastly outnumbered by North Korean regulars, the 1st looses 5000 men in less than two weeks.
Camp 5 on the Yalu River
Tibor spends 30 months here; stealing food from enemy stores, raiding nearby farms, and using the knowledge he'd gained in Mauthausen to keep fellow POWs alive.
Tibor is repatriated in 1953
Before the armistice Tibor is released in an early POW exchange called "Little Switch." In days, news travels about a young Hungarian immigrant who fought for the US and became a prisoner of two wars.
Tibor's recovery takes months.
Although he is often asked about his experiences as a POW, Tibor remains discreet.He cites the need to protect men who are still still held prisoner by the communists.
Tibor and Yvonne
Tibor married Yvonne Meijers in 1963 but tells her nothing about his remarkable heroism for nearly 30 years.
Tibor receives his medal in 2005
Fifty years after he returned from Korea "Teddy" Rubin finally is recognized for his amazing heroism.
Tibor and writer Dan Cohen, 2014
Early in his 80s, Teddy decides it's time to talk about aspects of his life that he's kept to himself for 70 years.