By: Ch, Lt Col Mitchell D. Geller, Excerpted from Rabbis in Uniform
About a week before Passover 1952, while stationed at an Air Force Headquarters in Texas, I received an SOS via MARS (Military Auxiliary Radio System). The operator said there was an emergency high priority message for me from Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico, but he was unable to decipher it. “Spell it out to me and maybe I’ll be able to help.” Letter by letter he spelled: “PESACH SEDER SUPPLIES-NO CHRAIN-GEFILTA.”
Determined to prevent a serious violation of gefilta fish etiquette, I dropped everything and hastened to Shreveport, Louisiana, where I purchased three large gallon jars of horseradish. I packed them carefully, almost reverently, and marked the cartons “Religious Articles—Very Holy and Very Important.”
Back at my base, I contacted Flight Operations and found a courier plane going to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. From there, another courier could bring the precious cargo to Ramey in time for Passover. I went out to speak to the captain of the plane personally, and asked him to deliver the cartons to the Wing Chaplain at MacDill. I then got on the direct wire to MacDill and told the Wing Chaplain how urgent it was to deliver the “Passover supplies.”
The day before Passover, I received another call from the MARS Radio operator. “Chaplain, it’s another one of those unpronounceable messages.” “Spell it out,” I said. And this time he spelled: “CHRAIN ARRIVED B’SHALOM. CHAG SAMEACH AND A KOSHER PESACH.”
Often the things that seem insignificant are really the spice of life.