By: Chaplain (MAJ) Norman Siegel, reprinted from “Rabbis in Uniform”
Three days before Passover in 1943, I received a letter from the National Jewish Welfare Board askingme to send matzah to several Jewish Marines stationed on Samoa. As the Assistant Chaplain, US Army Forces Central Pacific Area, I had plenty of matzah available; the only problem was flying it to Samoa in time for Passover. I phoned the Senior Army Postal Officer at my HQ and learned that there was no flight scheduled for Samoa in the near future. I next called the Marine Commandant at Pearl Harbor and informed him of the problem. After a brief inquiry at his own HQ, he informed me that it was impossible to get the matzah to the Marines in time for Passover.
A brash Army LT, I quipped that if the Marines couldn’t deliver the goods, I’d see what the Army could do. When I told the Army Postal Officer of my retort to the Marine General, he arranged for a plane to rush the matzah to Samoa in time.
Some 18 months later, while visiting Guam, I paid my respects to the Commanding General of a Marine division. Hearing my name, he asked if I was the Army Chaplain who had phoned him at Pearl Harbor about shipping matzah to Marines on Samoa. When I admitted that I was, he asked whether I had gotten the matzah there in time for Passover. I assured him that I had. Smiling, he asked my permission to have a photograph of the two of us taken so that he could recall the Chaplain who had told him off. Then the Marine Major General invited me to dinner.
Reprinted from the Pesach 2022 issue of The Jewish American Warrior.