The tall colonel with blue eyes wearing an American coat felt his way across the base covered in darkness. Suddenly a voice was heard in the darkness: “Who is that?” It asked in Hebrew. “Stop and give the password”. The colonel wracked his head and tried to remember. “It’s me, Marcus” he stammered with a heavy American accent. A single shot was heard.
This is how Colonel Marcus’ life came to a tragic end. The story of how he came to be in Israel exemplifies the spirit of the Machal volunteers.
Marcus was a New York lawyer who had graduated from West Point; had been a Pentagon Planner during World War Israeli; a commander in the US Army’s Ranger School; an officer in the European campaign of the Supreme Headquarters of Allied Expeditionary Forces; and an advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt at the Yalta Conference. Col. Marcus was recruited in 1947 to advise David Ben Gurion on military matters.
Marcus wrote training manuals based on his previous military experience, and influenced the practical military organization of the Haganah. He guided Israelis in successful maneuvers against the Egyptian army during fighting in the Negev, and was behind the building of “Burma Road” to Jerusalem. With the rank of Major General, and the appointment as Commander of the Jerusalem Front, Marcus led four brigades in strategy and operations that eventually led to the liberation of Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.
On June 10, 1948, Marcus was tragically killed by friendly fire, hours before a cease fire was declared. He is the only American soldier who died fighting for another country, but was still buried in the West Point Military Academy cemetery. His story affected many, and his headstone is inscribed with the phrase: “A Soldier for All Humanity”.