On June 30th, 1948, Seaboard flew the body of Colonel Mickey Marcus, U.S. Army, retired, back from Israel, via Marseille, to the United States for burial at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from which he had graduated. Accompanying the body were Seaboard's Vice-President of Operations, Carl Brell, and four Israelis. They were Moshe Dayan and his wife Ruth, Joseph Hamburger, and a fifteen-year-old boy whose connection is unknown. The Israelis were traveling on British passports marked Palestine, as the state of Israel had only been in existence for a month and a half, and had not yet issued its own passports. The Palestine passports had actually been invalid since Israeli independence.
The crew manifest originally listed Brell as a courier and the Israelis as company employees. Brell and the Israelis were crossed off and added to a passenger manifest.
At that time, Dayan was the commander of an Israeli battalion fighting in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war which had started the previous month, one day after Israel had declared its independence. Dayan would later serve as Chief of the General Staff, Minister of Defence, and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Joseph Hamburger, a.k.a. Jossi Harel, was an Israeli intelligence official who was famous for an operation using four ships to transport more than 24,000 illegal immigrants from Europe to Palestine. The story of Harel and one of the ships, the Exodus, was told in a Hollywood movie of the same name, in which the character played by Paul Newman was based on Harel.
David Daniel "Mickey" Marcus was born in New York City in 1901. He graduated from West Point in 1924. After completing his active duty requirement, he became a lawyer and worked as an Assistant United States Attorney in New York, and as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Marcus returned to active duty. He held staff jobs until 1944 when, as a full colonel, he persuaded his commanding officer, Major Gen. John H. Hilldring, to send him to London for liaison and as an observer in the implementation of military policies for France. When Hilldring did not hear from Marcus for a couple of weeks, he made a few transatlantic phone calls. He learned that Marcus, who had no paratrooper training, had exploited his West Point acquaintanceship with Maj. Gen. Maxwell Taylor to jump into Normandy on D-Day with the first wave of Taylor's 101st Airborne Division without Taylor's knowledge. On the ground, Marcus organized groups of scattered paratroopers which he led on patrols and into firefights with German units. Marcus ran into Taylor, who asked, "What the hell are you doing here?" Marcus replied, "Oh, just looking around." Hilldring issued an order and Marcus was back in the U.S. after a week. He resumed high-level staff jobs until 1946 when he left the Army and for a private law practice.
In 1947, David Ben-Gurion, the founding father of Israel, asked Marcus to recruit an American officer to serve as military advisor to the Haganah, the Jewish paramilitary organization. On May 28, 1948, two weeks after Israeli independence, Marcus was appointed the first general in the modern Israeli army. Hours before a cease-fire was scheduled to take effect at 10:00 a.m. on June 11, 1948, Marcus was unable to sleep. He wrapped himself in a white blanket and went for a walk. As he left his quarters in an abandoned monastery, the sentry waved to him. By the time Marcus returned, the sentry had been replaced by an eighteen-year-old recent immigrant who had come on duty early. The sentry challenged Marcus in Hebrew. Marcus did not understand and replied in English, which the sentry did not understand. Marcus, wrapped in the blanket, kept approaching. The sentry fired and killed Marcus, the last casualty before the cease-fire. Ben-Gurion said, "He was the best man we had."
Mickey Marcus was buried at West Point on July 2, 1948, 28 years to the day after he first reported there as a plebe. He was the first soldier buried at West Point who had died fighting for another country. Among the mourners were Thomas E. Dewey, the governor of New York, with whom he had worked in New York; and Gen. Maxwell Taylor, the superintendent of West Point and Marcus's former schoolmate.
Markus was also the hero of a Hollywood movie, Cast a Giant Shadow, in which he was played by Kirk Douglas.
The Seaboard crewmembers on the flight were:
|First Officer||William Carr*|
|First Officer||Ray Korty|
|Radio Operator||Harry Newman|
|Radio Operator||Jerome Stone|
|Flight Mechanic||James Morris|
*Killed in 1957 in a mid-air collision while working as a test pilot for Douglas.