In the course of researching something else, I happened to come a
wikipedia article about Joseph Trumpeldor, who in 1906 became the
first Jew in the Czarist army to receive an officer's commission.
Trumpeldor was born outside the Pale in Pyatigorsk, Russia and was
both intensely Russian and intensely Jewish. He volunteered for the
Russian army in 1902 and participated in the Russo-Japanese War.
Trumpeldor lost his left arm to shrapnel during the siege of Port
Arthur by the Japanese and spent a hundred days in the hospital
recovering. He then chose to return to army duty, reportedly
responding when questioned about the sense of this decision, "but I
still have another arm to give to the motherland." When Port Arthur
surrendered, Trumpeldor was a prisoner of the Japanese. He occupied
his time until release printing a newspaper on Jewish affairs and
organized history, geography and literature classes. Trumpeldor
subsequently received four decorations for bravery including the Cross
of St. George, making him the most decorated Jewish soldier in Russia,
and then his historic officer's commission in 1906.
Trumpeldor was also an ardent Zionist and settled in Israel in 1912.
He volunteered to fight for the British in World War I and survived
even the disastrous battle of Gallipoli and at the end of the war
returned to Israel. Almost immediately thereafter, Arabs, encouraged
by the British, began attacking Jewish settlements. Haganah was
formed in 1919 to defend Jewish settlers against these Arab attacks.
Of course, Trumpeldor volunteered once again. He died in 1920 when
Arabs attacked the Jewish town of Tel Chai. Trumpeldor was mortally
wounded and died with the words "Ein Davar, tov lamut be-arzeinu," or
"it is good to die for one's country."
Note: Most on-line information on Trumpeldor does not mention that he
became an officer in the Czar's army. Of the half-dozen sites I
checked, only Wikipedia and jbuff.com mention it.
MODERATOR'S NOTE: Please confine any public responses to the question
of Jewish officers in the Czar's Army.