An Activist Shaped by War and Study

It sounds like something out of a war comics adventure story, but it is all true. UW-Madison grad John Gilman earned some the highest military honors for bravery in WWII through several heroic exploits. These included single handedly knocking out an enemy tank, as well as suppressing the crew of an “88” battery, one of the most feared weapons of the war. Gilman was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star for Valor, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart, among other decorations. He also survived a Nazi buzz bomb attack on the English hospital where he was recuperating from combat wounds. After the war he would settle in in Milwaukee, where his small business would be bombed by Klansman, who targeted him for his civil rights and community activism. His memoir – “A Footsoldier for Peace and Justice” is featured on our reading list for Jewish-American Heritage Month.