Global Navigation

Top Navigation

Left Navigation


Free presentation on peacetime draft during cold war December 4

When you hear the word “draft,” do you think of poor insulation in your home or maybe the annual event where professional sports teams select new players? Until 1973, for most people the word draft would usually bring up thoughts of compulsory military service. Well, this is the “draft” that will be the focus of an upcoming event based on a book by Manlius, N.Y. resident Mel Rubenstein.

Cover of the book The Peacetime Draft During the Cold War.The Peacetime Draft During the Cold War, a presentation by Mel and Mady Rubenstein, will be given on Sunday, Dec. 4 at 1 p.m. at the Sam Pomeranz Jewish Community Center of Syracuse, 5655 Thompson Rd., DeWitt. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

Rubenstein’s book, The Peacetime Draft During the Cold War (2009), is a compilation of contributed stories by Syracuse area men about their service in the military during the extremely dangerous period between the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. The presentation on December 4 will delve into many of the book’s stories with many historical photos of the time.

For a glimpse at some of the accounts in The Peacetime Draft During the Cold War, following is a brief look at four of the book’s stories.

Sidney Lipton was an aeronautical engineer in the Air Force and worked with German scientists who came to the U.S. after WWII. One was Walter Domberger, who helped the Germans develop the V-1 and V-2 rockets. Another was a German scientist who developed the first jet aircraft engine.

Ted Taylor was an officer in the 82nd Airborne. Two weeks before the Cuban Missile crises he personally gave a planeside briefing to President Kennedy about the readiness of his unit. He then became the minister of the Dewitt Community Church.

Dr. Roosevelt “Rick” Wright wrote stories of four African Americans who served when the armed forces began to desegregate in the 1950s and 1960s. One of these men was the only African American pilot in the U.S. Coast Guard. It was his plane that spotted the Russian ship loaded with missiles on its way to Cuba.

Lawrence Gingold was a lawyer in the Air Force. He was in his office at Andrew’s Air Force Base when Air Force One landed with President Kennedy’s body on board. He saw the body lowered to the ground and saw Jacqueline standing there with blood still on her jacket.

Also included in the book are stories by Dick Case, Hall Groat, Charles Barnett, Haden Patton, Harold Rubenstein, Rev. Irving Hill, Hal Brown and, of course, Mel Rubenstein. Several of the contributing writers will be on hand to meet and greet at the Dec. 4 presentation.

Rubenstein got the idea for The Peacetime Draft During the Cold War from a conversation that he had with his grandson.

“One day my 15-year old grandson asked me what it was like being in the Army,” Rubenstein said. “It was then I realized that it had been a number of years since the ‘volunteer army’ replaced the draft, and no longer was anyone required to serve in the armed forces. Although I hope that mandatory military service will never again be needed, it is important for the younger generations to know what it was like serving our country—even in times of peace.”

According to Rubenstein, his book may be the only firsthand evidence of how the draft affected our lives and everyone around us. The Fayetteville Free Library’s head librarian checked the Library of Congress database and could not find another book written on this subject.

During the early stages of compiling his manuscript, Rubenstein visited retired Col. Bill Smullen, director of National Security Studies at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. After reading a few pages, Smullen gave Rubenstein the thumbs up and encouraged him to complete the project.

The foreword for The Peacetime Draft During the Cold War was written by retired U.S. Navy Admiral John F. Paddock Jr. from Skaneateles.

For more information about The Peacetime Draft During the Cold War presentation on Dec. 4, contact the JCC’s Cindy Stein at 315-445-2360 or