Eisen, Morton (825th, 631st)

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Biography: Morton Eisen was born on June 10, 1919, in New York City, New York. He was the son of Louis Eisen and Tillie Yager and graduated from Memorial High School in West New York, New Jersey. He continued his education at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, graduating in 1941.

While at the university, he was a member of both Theta Xi and Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) fraternities. ZBT was the first and largest Jewish fraternity promoting Intellectual Awareness, Social Responsibility, Integrity and Brotherly Love, in order to prepare its brothers for positions of leadership and service.

According to his enlistment record, he had experience as a shipping clerk prior to the war.

Service Time: Morton Eisen entered the service on January 16, 1942, at Fort Dix, New Jersey. After or sometime during his basic training, Morton was chosen to attend OCS (Officer Candidate School) at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He graduated in Class 23, on July 28, 1942, as a 2nd Lieutenant of Field Artillery.

A cadre of officers, including Morton, were drawn from Fort Sill to staff the newly formed 825th Tank Destrouer battalion, which had been activated on August 10th at nearby Camp Gruber, OK. Morton was assigned to the Headquarters Company and continued his training with the unit at various military facilities, including Camp Hood, Texas, and briefly at Camp Phillips, Kansas, before shipping to Devils Lake, North Dakota, to assist with the record wheat harvest.

They participated in the Tennessee maneuvers from November 9, 1943, to January 15, 1944, before moving to Camp Campbell, Kentucky, and then Camp Breckenridge, KY. From there, they boarded trains for movement to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, to make final preparations for the trip overseas. They shipped out from the New York port on May 30, arriving in England on June 5th.

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On July 30th, the men finally went ashore at Utah Beach in Normandy, France. The unit was assigned to the Communications Zone and 12th Army Group security duties beginning in August. The battalion arrived in Luxembourg on October 14th and their CP’s (Command Posts) was subjected to intense shelling by German artillery from a 280mm railway gun. As identified by the unit history, due to the enemy breakthrough with the start of the Battle of the Bulge, the 12th Army Group and battalion CP’s in the City of Luxembourg were faced with the constant threat of enemy parachutists. It became necessary to form several riot squads from the personnel of Headquarters Company. These squads served under the command of Cpt. John H. McCord and were assigned both night and day duties, tracking down reports of enemy activity behind the allied lines. They also had set up a number of bazooka posts positioned in a defensive pattern to be used in the event of an armored attack on the capitol city. 

Morton Eisen 3On December 17th, elements of the battalion entered combat near Malmedy, Belgium but on January 16, 1945, they returned to security duties and by the 28th, the 12th Army Group moved out of Luxembourg and into Namur, Belgium with the 825th. On May 12th, Morton attended the “Victory in Europe” dinner/dance presented in honor of General Omar N. Bradley by the officers of the Tactical Echelon of Headquarters 12th Army Group. The dinner was held at Bad Wildungen, Germany and General Bradley was presented with a framed illustration of the travels of the 12th Army Group. The 825th received credit for the campaigns of Northern France, Rhineland, the Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe.

Morton remained in Europe on occupational duty and was initially transferred to the 631stt Tank Destroyer Battalion and then the was assigned to the 78th Infantry Division. He shipped home and was discharged on February 24, 1946, at the rank of Major,

The photo above includes an inset portrait of Morton, done by Chantal de Rocker “Chader” for the Eisen family.

Now back in New Jersey, Morton found work with the Wearever Pen Company as a salesman. On October 26, 1947, he married the former Muriel Engleman, who was born in the Bronx, New York, and was the daughter of Morris Engleman and Sara Horowitz. The new couple would make their home in West New York, NJ, and have a daughter Jane and a son Lloyd. 

In his spare time, Morton was a co-founder of the JCCP (Jewish Community Center of Paramus). He passed away on September 24, 1966, and was buried in the Beth-El Cemetery, Paramus, NJ, Block 10.

I want to thank Morton’s daughter, Jane, for providing the photos and information used in this tribute. Thank you also to Serge Lemaire for contacting the Eisen family and his continued efforts to honor the men of the 825th. Lastly, thank you to Chantal for using her artistic skills to provide drawings of the soldiers for their families.