At Veterans Day Parade, Trump Praises Commander Who Saved 200 Jewish Soldiers at World War II POW Camp
US President Donald Trump at the New York City Veterans Day Parade on Monday honored a World War II veteran who saved 200 Jewish American soldiers.
The first president ever to attend the annual event, Trump told the story of Staff Sergeant Roddie Edmonds, who was taken prisoner along with over 1,000 others during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 and incarcerated at the Stalag IXA POW camp near Ziegenhain, Germany.
“After they arrived at a prison camp,” Trump recounted, “the German commander sent an order over the loudspeaker. The Jewish American soldiers were all told to step out of line during roll call the next day. Knowing the terrible fate that would come to his Jewish comrades, Roddie immediately said, ‘We’re not doing that.’ He sent orders to have every American step out of line with their Jewish brothers in arms. The next morning, 1,292 Americans stepped forward.”
Trump continued, “The German commander stormed over to Roddie and said, ‘They cannot all be Jews.’ Roddie stared right back. He said, ‘We are all Jews here.’ At that point, the German put a gun to Roddie’s head and demanded, ‘You will order the Jews to step forward immediately, or I will shoot you right now through the head.’ Roddie responded, ‘Major, you can shoot me, but you’ll have to kill us all.’ The German turned red, got very angry, but put his gun down and walked away.”
“Master Sergeant Edmonds saved 200 Jewish Americans, soldiers, that day — so proud to be Jewish and so proud of our country,” Trump said.
Trump then introduced 96-year-old Lester Tanner, one of the Jewish soldiers saved by Edmonds.
In 2016, The Algemeiner reported that Edmonds’ son Chris was pushing for his father to be given a posthumous Medal of Honor, America’s highest military award, for his actions.
“I was basically told that they didn’t think dad was eligible for a Medal of Honor because he was a POW and wasn’t in what they considered combat at the time,” Chris told The Algemeiner. “They didn’t see him as leading a revolt or being in danger in the sense of any combat.”
“But here is the irony of all this,” he said. “The army in World War II, and to my knowledge still does this, trains its soldiers to continue to resist the enemy and be a combatant, even as a POW. And they are to willfully try to defeat the enemy as a POW and that’s what dad was doing.”
“If dad was here, he’d say don’t make a big fuss about this, I just did what I was supposed to do, just doing my job,” said Chris. “But I think he’s deserving of the Medal of Honor. Dad demonstrated bravery and courage beyond the scope of his responsibilities. He didn’t have to do what he did.”
“It’s truly a unique American story, a unique soldier story, and a unique army story,” he added. “I think it would honor dad, the army, and POWs for him to get this award. And I believe it would even honor future generations, because if the US military says this man deserves the Medal of Honor, then his story is going to be told for generations to come. I just want to get dad’s leadership and legacy out there for everyone to be inspired by.”
In January 2016, Roddie Edmonds received the “Righteous Among the Nations” recognition from Yad Vashem, becoming the first US soldier to be so honored.
“Yad Vashem vetted it and did their homework, investigated it and felt confident that, first, dad did what he did and, second, he was deserving of that high Israeli honor,” Chris said.
Watch Trump’s full remarks below: