Second Lieutenant Raymond Zussman, USA (September 12, 1944)

Raymond Zussman was born in Hamtramck, Michigan on July 23, 1917. He was drafted into the United States Army on September 24, 1941. He received his basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and was then sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky. He graduated from the armor officers’ course and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Armor Branch on January 9, 1943.

Zussman went to war in Europe with the 756th Tank Battalion, attached to the 3rd Infantry Division. He was wounded near Monte Cassino in Italy and offered a headquarters position after he recovered which he refused so as to rejoin his front-line tank unit.

The 756th landed in southern France with the 3rd Infantry Division as part of Operation DRAGOON. On September 12, 1944, Lieutenant Zussman commanded two M4 Sherman tanks in support of an infantry company. During the battle, he advanced on foot and with no protection to direct the fires of both his armor and the infantry and routed the enemy.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (T-Z):

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Photo: Military Times’ Hall of Valor

*ZUSSMAN, RAYMOND

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 756th Tank Battalion. Place and date: Noroy le Bourg, France, 12 September 1944. Entered service at: Detroit, Mich. G.O. No.: 42, 24 May 1945

Citation: On 12 September 1944, 2d Lt. Zussman was in command of 2 tanks operating with an infantry company in the attack on enemy forces occupying the town of Noroy le Bourg, France. At 7 p.m., his command tank bogged down. Throughout the ensuing action, armed only with a carbine, he reconnoitered alone on foot far in advance of his remaining tank and the infantry. Returning only from time to time to designate targets, he directed the action of the tank and turned over to the infantry the numerous German soldiers he had caused to surrender. He located a road block and directed his tanks to destroy it. Fully exposed to fire from enemy positions only 50 yards distant, he stood by his tank directing its fire. Three Germans were killed and 8 surrendered. Again he walked before his tank, leading it against an enemy-held group of houses, machinegun and small arms fire kicking up dust at his feet. The tank fire broke the resistance and 20 enemy surrendered. Going forward again alone he passed an enemy-occupied house from which Germans fired on him and threw grenades in his path. After a brief fire fight, he signaled his tank to come up and fire on the house. Eleven German soldiers were killed and 15 surrendered. Going on alone, he disappeared around a street corner. The fire of his carbine could be heard and in a few minutes he reappeared driving 30 prisoners before him. Under 2d Lt. Zussman’s heroic and inspiring leadership, 18 enemy soldiers were killed and 92 captured.

Raymond Zussman was killed in action by a German mortar blast nine days later on September 21, 1944. His Medal of Honor was presented to his father at a graduation ceremony of the Armor Officers’ school on June 9, 1945. After an initial burial in a military cemetery in France, Zussman’s remains were repatriated to the United States and laid to their final rest in the Machpelah Cemetery of Ferndale, Michigan.

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