2nd Lt. Raymond Zussman
THE NAVY GOT IT WRONG
The football coach at Central High School laughed when Raymond Zussman showed up to try out for the team. The Navy rejected Zussman for being too short. They both got it wrong.
The small statured Zussman wore the attitude “I kin take care of myself.” He did. He protected the innocent of WWII and took care of a large number of Nazi soldiers as well. His personal, undaunted courage and can-do attitude made him a WWII fighting powerhouse earning him the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Ray Zussman was raised in Hamtramck. He sang in his synagogue’s choir. After high school, he became a shop steward with local union #337. When WWII broke out, he turned to US Army who recognized his spirit. He became an instructor in street fighting at Fort Knox and tank commander with the 756th Tank Battalion.
Zussman saw action and was wounded in the battle of Cassino, Italy. After recovery, he was reassigned to active duty crossing from France into Germany. Zussman’s tank became disabled in battle at the Village of Noroy-le-Bourg, France. He took a carbine and proceeded on foot guiding a second tank through the village streets avoiding German booby traps. He manually directed tank fire to destroy enemy machine gun positions. When his carbine ran out of ammunition, he picked up a Tommy gun for defense. Fearing an ambush, Zussman went forward alone to look for the enemy. In total, Zussman’s efforts netted 18 dead enemy soldiers, 92 prisoners, the capture of two anti-tank guns, a flak gun and two trucks. Unfortunately, he met death a few days after these heroics; killed in action in another battle on September 21, 1944.
A US military ship, a veteran’s post, private library, and two parks were named in his honor. His Detroit Park at Dexter and Davison was dedicated on July 17, 1951. Today this tidy park is a boon to the neighborhood with newer playground equipment, basketball court, and picnic shelter. Zussman is also honored with a Hamtramck park bordered by Evaline, Winfield, and Yemans Streets.
The Raymond Zussman Post #333 continues to be active in the remembrance of veterans through veteran support, fundraising, and commemorative activities. The Zussman family takes personal pride in the remembrance of this courageous hero.
Copyright 2013 Andrea Gallucci. All rights reserved.
Raymond Zussman photo courtesy of the Rabbi Leo M. Franklin Archive – Jewish War Veterans Collection.