By Gerry Levine, Post 125
JWV Jersey Shore Post 125 celebrated twenty WWII veterans November 12 in a special ceremony at the Ocean, NJ JCC. These former service members were regaled as members of the “Greatest Generation,” the name applied by journalist Tom Brokaw to describe the men and women of America’s WWII armed forces. Now in their nineties, these veterans recalled in brief comments, some of their still vivid recollections of wartime service during mobilization in England amidst Nazi bombings, in ground campaigns like the Battle of the Bulge in Europe, in the battle for Leyte and the Philippines in the Pacific, and elsewhere around the world during the 1940s. There were stories of admitted relief knowing that the atomic bomb saved untold numbers of American lives as the war with Japan came to an end.
Accompanied by friends and family members, the honorees rose, some with difficulty, but all proudly, as their individual service anthems were played and then again to salute fallen comrades and friends as Taps sounded in memory of those no longer here. As noted by event Chairman and Honorary Dept. of NJ Commander, Gerald Levine of Long Branch, honoring WWII vets has been a tradition in Jersey Shore posts, but the ranks of World War II service members are rapidly thinning. Seven potential honorees had passed during the planning for the 2017 event.
WWII is now 72 years behind us yet memories of the war years were still clear to many of the veterans as they recalled their experiences. Among those recollections were those of Bernard Tillis, senior surviving commander of Post 125 who served in the Battle of the Bulge. Milton Ziment, another former Post 125 commander saw the war conclude in Europe and was about to embark with his unit for the Pacific when VJ day arrived. Bernard Weinstein, Commander of Oglensky-Jackson Post 359 in Freehold, NJ was a young radar technician when the war ended. His collection of WWII memorabilia is scheduled for display at Brookdale Community College in Freehold, NJ. David Scheinhartz’s unit was scheduled for a dangerous Japanese mission about which he recalls having really ominous feelings. “I owe my life to Harry Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bombs,” he said, and then went on reflect on the miracle that enabled 16 of his acquaintances from the Bronx who fought in the war to return home safely. Harold Greenspan of Long Branch, NJ was wounded in the Philippines and then again, near mortally, in the battle for Okinawa. He credited his ultimate survival to a change in orders instigated by an Army physician who by remarkable coincidence was a medical school colleague of Greenspan’s brother. Sam Kaye, a board member of Post 125 and the first elected Jewish Freeholder in Hudson County, NJ, was in charge of the Army Pictorial Service repair shop in London and later in Germany. Kaye had two brothers in the Army and a sister in the Navy during the war years. No surprise Kaye pointed out. His father served in WWI and his grandfather was in the Army in the Spanish American War. Henry Lapidus was accepted as an aviation cadet after basic training but found himself transferred back to ground forces as the European campaign heated up. He ended up as a rifleman in the 276th Infantry Regiment that fought its way up through France and then across the Rhine into Germany. Bernard Karasic, a Navy enlistee following high school in Asbury Park, was aboard ship off the coast of Japan when the Pacific war ended. He returned safely and ultimately practiced law in the Shore area for six decades. These were but a few of the experiences shared as the veterans and their guests enjoyed the warm spirit of the event.
Post Commander Dr. Allan Solden delivered welcoming remarks to the assembled crowd of more than 100 and, following the actual recognition ceremonies, Post 125, led by PPC and County Commander Stanley Shapiro, hosted a catered luncheon that was very well received as the good food and warm environment gave guests the opportunity to chat informally and reflect on the service of these veterans to America during a time of great need. Certificates recognizing their service were also given by the State of New Jersey to the veterans being honored and photographic mementos of the event are being arranged by Post 125 JVC Sid Marshall.
Volume 72. Number 1. Spring 2018