Search billions of records on

Sam Dreben - Obituary

(1808 - 1885)
(Associated Press, 16 March 1925)

Fearless Sam Dreben, internationally known for his reckless bravery on a score of battle fields; American world war hero and soldier of fortune in a dozen revolutions; filibusterer with Villa and friend of Pershing, will be buried today. Dreben died here Sunday of paralysis after an illness of several months. He was 47 years old. Toward sundown today the Hollywood American Legion post of which he was a member, will take his body to a cemetery in Burbank, over the hills form here, where taps will sound the close of his colorful career.

Born in Russia of Jewish parents, Dreben came to the United States as a young man and soon afterward joined the United States army. He became a first sergeant of infantry, saw service in the Philippines, and in China. Later he participated in a revolution in Nicaragua as a free lance and rounded out his Central American adventures with a term of service under General Lee Christmas in Honduras. Mexico knows Dreben as a follower of Madero in the revolution against Diaz, later as a participant in the revolt against Madero, and still later as a free lance with Villa. He quit Villa, however, and when General Pershing led his punitive expedition into Mexico after the Columbus raid, he went along as a scout to help find Villa.

When the world war broke out, Dreben enlisted and in the last big offensive of 1918 he fought with such outstanding recklessness, resourcefulness and effectiveness that the United States awarded him the distinguished service cross; France decorated him with the croix do guerre, and Italy also honored him. It is said that near Etienne he led a small group of volunteers against a vastly superior German force, capturing four German machine guns, killing fifty-eight of the enemy and taking two prisoners. Many writers and soldier of note knew and admired Dreben, and General Pershing once was quoted as referring to him as "the finest soldier and one of the bravest men I ever know. "