Joshua A. Mandel
Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps
Joshua Mandel seems to have a knack for service. He served two terms as the Ohio State University undergraduate president before he joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves in 2000. After his initial training, he returned home to Cleveland and began law school at Case Western Reserve University. While at Case, the young Republican worked for his state representative for three years in charge of community outreach.
At only 26 years of age, Cpl Mandel ran for the office of city councilman of his hometown of Lyndhurst, Ohio. Mandel physically went door-to-door campaigning and listening to the people. His sincere concern for the individual voters seemed to have a big effect on the people of Lyndhurst; he won his first race for public office with 4700 of the 5000 votes cast.
Cpl Mandel was sworn in to public office on December 30, just days after he received notification that he was being called to active duty for Operation Iraqi Freedom. In an impressive showing of support, the council passed a resolution allowing him to keep his seat while deployed.
Even though he is far from home and obviously occupied with his task at hand in Iraq, Mandel still finds time for the city residents he represents. The staff at Lyndhurst City Hall keeps him updated on the business of his city via letters and email. He regularly writes letters home to the city council and has even helped with some special requests.
Jeff Dean, an Ohio resident and Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam had a special favor for Cpl Mandel. He asked if Mandel could briefly fly his Marine Corps flag from one of the vehicles and bring it back with him when he returned from Iraq.
Mandel came through and affixed Dean’s flag above the Humvee that carried Mandel and his fellow Marines into battle during a raid of Ar Rutbah, a town in the Al-Anbar province in the far western part of Iraq near the Syrian border. Cpl Mandel sent the flag and the battle certificate back to Dean along with a letter detailing the flag’s journey.
The community of Lyndhurst has come out in force to support their new councilman as well. In one of his letters back home, the corporal wrote that, “There’s not a mail call that goes by without something arriving from a family, organization, or school back home.”
The Jewish community of Lyndhurst has also shown their support for Cpl Mandel. In June, the local Jewish Community Federation collected a whopping 145 lbs. of goodies for Mandel and his band of brothers, everything from snacks to toys to a fly swatter.
The following are some excerpts from Cpl Mandel’s letter home thanking the federation:
The guys really liked the Israeli gumballs, and I did my best interpreting the jar for them (My Hebrew’s a bit rusty). There are also a few Marines who are proud to proclaim that they can properly pronounce “Manischewitz” from the front of the box of jelly rings! While the dried apples and honey look pretty tasty right now, my plan is to employ a little discipline and try to save ‘em until Rosh Hashana. We’ll see how long that lasts.
One of the things I miss most about home is my involvement in Jewish causes. As you can imagine, there aren’t too many of them in Iraq! I’m looking forward to the day when I’ll once again be able to spend many hours of my week dedicated to the Jewish community that has played such an integral role in my life.
It’s no wonder that the people who know Josh Mandel respect and admire him. Lyndhurst Mayor Joe Cicero said, “He is one of my heroes. You very rarely meet people who are so dedicated at his age. He is truly one of the most amazing people I’ve met.” Ohio State Representative Jim Trakas also said that, “Josh is the best human being I’ve ever met.”