Photos by Ariana Gastelum.
The VA Long Beach Medical Center was officially renamed Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center in a ceremony today dedicated to the Medal of Honor recipient, Korean War hero and POW and Holocaust survivor.
Congressman Alan Lowenthal introduced legislation to rename the medical center, and it was signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2016.
Lowenthal met Rubin at a ceremony in 2014 to celebrate the first United States Postal Service stand, which honored the courage of 145 Army, Navy, Airforce and Marine service members who received the Medal of Honor in the Korean War.
“He was a hero in every aspect,” Lowenthal said during the ceremony. “He was brave. He was selfless. He was intimately concerned about the wellbeing of those around. It’s only fitting that the Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center bares his name because it’s another place where his character showed through.”
Approximately 400 people attended the ceremony, several of them sporting military caps of all kinds, to hear special remarks by Lowenthal; retired Colonel Carl Singer, national commander and Jewish war veteran; VA IT Specialist and family friend Gary Nowak; retired Lieutenant Colonel Robert Huntly, nephew of Rubin; and Darin Selnick, senior advisor to Secretary of Veteran Affairs.
Following the remarks, Medical Center Director Walt Dannenberg presented three portraits of Rubin to Rubin’s son Frank, his daughter Rosie and Singer.
“It’s such an honor to be here, and I wish my dad was here,” Rosie told the Post. “We love America. Dad loved America. We love the veterans, and God bless our great country.”
Born in Hungary on June 18, 1929, Corporal Rubin survived 14 months in the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria before it was liberated by the US Army. He was so inspired by the American soldiers who rescued him that he eventually moved to the US, enlisted in the Army and became a citizen.
“I always wanted to become a citizen of the United States, and when I became a citizen, it was one of the happiest days in my life,” said Rubin’s statement in the event program. “When I came to America, it was the first time I was free. I joined the US Army because I wanted to show my appreciation.”
Retired Colonel Carl Singer, national commander and Jewish war veteran receiving a portrait of Rubin from Medical Center Director Walt Dannenberg.
Between July 1950 and April 1953, Rubin served as a rifleman with Company I, 8th Cavalry Regiment and 1st Cavalry Division in the Republic of Korea.
On October 30, 1950, Chinese forces attacked his unit at Unsan, North Korea. While in the POW camp, he risked his life to break into enemy storehouses and gardens to provide food to serving, sick and wounded soldiers.
Nowak encouraged those who are unfamiliar with his story to read Single Handed: The Inspiring True Story of Tibor “Teddy” Rubin: Holocaust Survivor, Korean War Hero and Medal of Honor Recipient.
Long after returning home and well before receiving the Medal of Honor in 2005, Rubin volunteered and visited the VA Hospital. Huntly recalled his uncle asking his mother to bake desserts to pass out to recovering patients.
Selnick wrapped up the speeches quoting President Teddy Roosevelt, who said, “A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards.”
“As we go forward as the Tibor Rubin Medical Center, I believe the best way we can continue Ted’s legacy here is to ensure the veterans get that square deal now, and in the future both from the VA and the community,” Selnick added. “To achieve this, all us VA employees, veterans and community continue to support and work together to make the Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center, not only the best medical center in the VA, but the best medical center in the whole country.”