From WWII to the Vail Valley |

From WWII to the Vail Valley

Veronica Whitney
Preston Utley/Vail DailyHerb Rubinstein and his division liberated a concentration camp.

EAGLE COUNTY – If it hadn’t been for World War II, Herb Rubinstein said he would now be living in Florida instead of Edwards. Soon after the war ended, the 84-year-old World War II Army veteran went to Switzerland on vacation and learned to ski.”I was a Jewish boy from Brooklyn who had never skied and who fell in love with skiing, and that’s when I came to Vail,” said Rubinstein, who has been coming to Vail for 40 years and who has lived in Singletree for eight.When she came back from World War II, where she was a message decoder, Marnie Jump, 86, of Vail was ready for more adventure.After spending four years with the Navy in the South Pacific, Jump came to Colorado and became the co-founder of Arapahoe Basin – founded in 1948 by her and her husband, Larry Jump, a lieutenant with the 10th Mountain Division who fought in Italy during the war.”It’s been quite an adventurous life,” Jump said. “World War II influenced everybody my age. After the war, we were all seeking new things to do. That’s why I came out to become a ski bum, but I married the boss.”

HerbRubinstein and Jump are two of five World War II veterans living in the Vail Valley. The others are Sandy Treet of Singletree and Candelero Cordoba and Higinio Romero, both from Minturn.Retired Pfc. Rubinstein was 22 when he joined the 89th Infantry Division and was shipped to battle.”I was a combat infantry man, on the front line, the best position to get killed,” said Rubinstein, who fought at the Battle of the Bulge, one of the biggest battles of World War II.”After the battle, we crossed the Rhine River, and that was scary because they had guns waiting on the other side,” Rubinstein said. “I was always lucky. After we crossed the Rhine, there were many battles and skirmishes.”Rubinstein and his division also liberated a concentration camp.”One thing that always bothered me is that we wore dog tags with our religion, so I was always scared that if I was captured they would put me in a slave labor camp or a concentration camp,” said Rubinstein, a Jew.

The surrender of the Japanese was the best thing that happened to him during the war, Rubinstein said.”I was scheduled to go to Japan to fight the Japanese. The chances of me surviving two wars was little,” he added.MarnieMarnie Jump was 21 years old when she enlisted in the Navy.”I was young and daring and I have my college degree so I was ready. I was the first class when the women services were organized,” said Jump, who after four years of service retired as a lieutenant. “My generation was very patriotic and we simply wanted to serve the country. Pearl Harbor inspired everyone to serve the country and win the war. All Women who participates in WW II either went to work for the Red Cross or the steel mills or joined the armed forces.”Jump remembers her job was demanding and it required a lot of responsibility.

“We worked shifts and it was a great responsibility because we had to get the messages correct and we had to encode all the messages out from Maui,” she said.Jump declined to reveal the content of the messages.”It was confidential. We handled top secret messages,” she said. “I didn’t get scared with the content . I was always more afraid of making a mistake.”Reflections on warWith the years, Jump has seen the role of women expand in the military.”Now they fly planes and drive trucks,” she said.

To Jump, the atmosphere in the country during WW II and the current one with the war in Iraq, are very different.”In WW II, the whole country was involved, ” she said. “It doesn’t seem to be the case with this war. The country is more divided. I never heard anybody criticize the efforts during WW II.”Four years ago Rubinstein, who worked as a president of a mail order and retail dental supply company outside New York, went to Normandy, France, and found the grave of a friend.”I found the grave that said when he was killed,” he said.”The war taught me how grateful I am to live in a country with so many opportunities and not the prejudices there are in Europe.”Rubinstein laughs when he remembers how much he got paid during WW II.”We got paid $24 a month,” said Rubinstein, who doesn’t receive a pension from the Army because he only spent four years there. “I felt it was a very justifiable war. I feel we eventually should have gone into Iraq, but gone better prepared.”

The movie “Saving Private Ryan” was very true to the combat situations during WW II, Rubinstein said.”It test you mentally and physically.”But a pleasant memory of the war was the European women who were very friendly and attractive, he added.”In every way,” he said. “I also made good friends and learned about the countries. But the biggest thing was that I learned to ski there.”Staff Writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or, Colorado

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