The American Battle Monuments Commission honors three fallen Jewish WWII soldiers, changes headstones to properly reflect faith and heritage
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ARLINGTON, Va. (Feb. 15, 2023) — The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), in coordination with Operation Benjamin, replaced the Latin Cross headstones marking the graves of three Jewish-American service members with the Star of David during a ceremony at the Manila American Cemetery this week.
The headstone replacements and graveside service—attended by ABMC and Operation Benjamin representatives, U.S. and foreign officials as well as family members of the fallen—correct errors that had persisted for nearly 80 years until they were discovered by Operation Benjamin, a U.S.-based organization whose mission is to ensure that Jewish-American military members who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II are buried under headstones that correctly reflect their faith and heritage.
Through extensive military history and genealogical research, the ceremony was made possible by request of the families through the Operation Benjamin team to ABMC, which oversees American military cemeteries around the world.
The service members honored today are Pfc. Ralph G. Greenstein, Pvt. Harvey P. Mashatt, and Tech5 Eugene Shore.
Greenstein was 21 years old at the time of his death. He enlisted in New York, and was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 132nd Infantry Regiment "Americal Division" (B Company). He was killed by an enemy grenade on April 5, 1945, on the Island of Cebu in the Philippines.
Greenstein is buried in Plot C, Row 12, Grave 71 at the Manila American Cemetery.
Mashatt, who enlisted in Massachusetts, died on July 16, 1942, due to starvation. The 19-year-old, who was assigned to Headquarters Squadron, 20th Air Base Group, was a prisoner of war at Camp #1 in Cabanatuan in the Philippines. He is buried in Plot N, Row 15, Grave 70 at the Manila American Cemetery.
Shore enlisted in the military in Pennsylvania, and was assigned to the Signal Air Wing Company during WWII. He contracted malaria while detained as a prisoner of war at Camp O’Donnell in the Philippines, and died on June 1, 1942, at the age of 23. He is buried in Plot C, Row 8, Grave 53 at the Manila American Cemetery.
“Our partnership with Operation Benjamin has truly been an honor and reflects the very mission of ABMC which resonates even more this year as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of our agency,” said Frank Ocegueda, ABMC’s deputy director of cemetery operations, Pacific. “Our aim every day is to tell the actual stories of the fallen, honor and remember them, as well as maintain our sites at the highest standards so that ‘Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.’”
Operation Benjamin is named for Benjamin Garadetsky, a U.S. serviceman killed in 1944 during a Luftwaffe bombing of the 2nd Armored Division positions. Garadetsky was laid to rest in the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, mistakenly buried beneath a Latin Cross. His headstone was changed to a Star of David in 2018, inspiring the name of the newly formed organization. The organization also led other efforts that resulted in the change of the headstones at several ABMC sites across the world.
For more information about ABMC, please visit our website abmc.gov or our social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
About American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC):
The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) operates and maintains 26 cemeteries and 32 federal memorials, monuments, and commemorative plaques in 17 countries throughout the world, including the United States. The four memorials in the United States are: the World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C.; the Honolulu memorial located within the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii; the West Coast Memorial located within the Presidio National Park in San Francisco, Calif; and the East Coast Memorial located within Battery City Park in New York, N.Y. Since March 4, 1923, ABMC’s sacred mission remains to honor the service, achievements, and sacrifice of more than 200,000 U.S. service members buried and memorialized at our sites. For more information about ABMC, visit abmc.gov.