Written by Judy Epstein Friday, 28 May 2010 07:56
John Chalker, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1819 (Henderson-Marino) has announced the selection of Eugene Taubel as co-Grand Marshal of this year’s Memorial Day Parade.
Like his co-Grand Marshal, Eugene Taubel also served in the Pacific Theater during World War II, from 1943 to 1946 – but as a corporal in the Army, technician, fifth Grade in the 141st Battalion.
Eugene Taubel was born in Brooklyn on November 13, 1924. After graduating from Samuel J. Tilden High School he attended Brooklyn College, studying chemistry.
And it was Taubel’s background in chemistry that was of most interest to the Army when it drafted him, early in 1943. He was sent to the South Pacific island of New Guinea, to a unit whose primary mission was repairing damaged trucks and tanks and returning them to combat.
One of Taubel’s duties was ensuring that the unit’s drinking water was properly chlorinated in the large water tank where it was stored. He was checking the water tank, one day, when Japanese forces opened fire on the camp. They were shooting from higher uphill, at soldiers in front of the water tank and farther downhill, but Taubel was protected by the tank. Or so he thought, until finally he felt a shot and went down, covered in blood. Not until the incident was over did he realize he was actually covered in water – it was the water tank that had sustained the injury.
In another incident, Taubel was with several others who were sent into the jungle to repair and retrieve a tank (vehicle) that was too badly damaged for driving. Taubel was assigned the least desirable task, working underneath the machine, trying to fix the treads with a wrench in 110 degree heat. “I thought, ‘How am I going to get under that?’ But I did.”
After about an hour of work, the unit came under attack from Japanese forces. “Everyone else was killed,” says Taubel, “and they would have killed me, too, if they’d known I was there.” He stayed in place until evening when the attackers left and he could finally make his way back to camp. They retrieved the bodies the next day.
It was for yet another incident – a glancing head-wound while his helmet was off – that Taubel was awarded a Purple Heart.
Taubel’s unit was bombed almost nightly by Japanese planes. They had some respite during the day when American planes could protect them.
After the war, Taubel returned to Brooklyn College and finished his degree in chemistry. He attended the Massachusetts College of Optometry, but went into sales as a technical representative, selling chemicals and colorants to customers in the plastics industry.
In 1950, Gene married Beverly Huppert, whom he had met at college. The couple moved to Laurelton, Queens. In 1969, when they heard from friends about homes for sale in the Soundview section of Port Washington, the Taubels moved to Driftwood Drive.
They have two children, Mindy Mintz who lives in Port Washington with son Sean (a student at Schreiber); and Stuart, who lives in Manhattan with wife Debra, an M.D., and their two children, Sara and Ben.
With retirement, Gene and Beverly now enjoy traveling, notably around the Mediterranean including Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Israel; fiction reading; and spending time with their grandchildren.