Up through World War II, The United States Marine Corps was generally viewed as the least inviting of the U.S. Armed Forces for American Jews to join. It was, in the words of Lenny Bruce, “heavy goyish.” Of course, there were a few prominent exceptions to this rule, notably General Victor “Brute” Krulak.
Participating at key moments of Marine Corps history, Krulak, the child of immigrants, pioneered technological innovations such as using helicopters in combat, and rose to the highest ranks of Marine leadership. A fierce fighter on the battlefield and in Washington politics, Krulak also went to extraordinary lengths to closet his Jewish heritage.
Presenting himself as an Episcopalian at the start of his career, Krulak was engaged in what one relative described as a “benign conspiracy” to conceal his Jewish background. His son Victor, Jr. only learned about his father’s Jewish origins as an adult—by which time he was already an Episcopalian priest.
Known for his tall tales, like supposed encounters with dangerous animals, the web Krulak spun to hide his Jewishness was his tallest tale of all.