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A Heroic World War II Dentist Finally Gets His Due

Ceremony: Fellow USC alumnus spends years making the case for awarding the Medal of Honor to a Southland officer he never met.

May 05, 2002|PATRICIA WARD BIEDERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Even when Salomon was an infantryman, he would give dental checkups to his Army buddies, sometimes scaling their teeth as they lay on their bunks. A former Eagle Scout, Salomon was also a fine all-around soldier--an excellent marksman and first-rate machine-gunner.

Finally commissioned in 1942, Salomon became a regimental dentist. He was acting as a surgeon when he died because he had volunteered to replace the aid station's wounded surgeon.

According to the Army Dental Corps' official history, published in 2000, more than 18,000 Army dentists served during World War II. Salomon was one of only 20 to die in battle.

Sculley said he had a visceral sense of the sacrifice Salomon had made as he stood next to 91-year-old Robert B. Shira, a former chief of the Army Dental Corps, during the Medal of Honor ceremony.

A contemporary of Salomon's who fought to win recognition for the heroic dentist in the 1960s, Shira has had a long and distinguished career in the military, academia and public service. He also has children and grandchildren.

"All the things that Dr. Shira accomplished were done in the years Ben Salomon never had," Sculley said.

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