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My Father and I often spoke of his experiences on Shemya...a "Gods forsaken place" as he would put it. He and his fellow soldiers participated in softball leagues to help pass the time. My Dad is listed in the one newsletter, dated: 11 June 1945, with a team called the "Providers" (Quartermaster Section, makes sense). He had the second best batting average of .455.

Cpl. Sylvan Weinberger was born 15 September 1916 and was raised in Philadelphia, PA. Dad dropped out of school in 1935 to help his parents with their small grocery store on 117 West Cumberland Street in Philly. Dad joined the Pennsylvania National Guard on 28 April 1936 and was assigned to the Machine Gun Troop, 103rd Cavalry. He was transferred to Troop L on 10 February 1937. Dad told me that during training they rode horses, and he would trail a horse along with a water cooled machine gun atop the second horse. Sylvan was discharged on 27 April 1939 with comments from his commander, Capt. Joseph Wall, that he was an excellent, honest, and faithful soldier, and recommended he should reenlist. Dad's National Guard Unit was activated in May 1941 to become the 28th Infantry Division. On 15 May 1941 Dad was drafted into the U.S. Army, and in September 1941 Dad was sent to "C" Company, 3rd Ordnance Training BN, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD. In November 1941 Dad was assigned to Detachment, 1st Ordnance Service Company, Fort Michie, NY. Dad told me he was in the barracks on 07 December 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He said that all the Soldiers looked at one another and stated "Well, we're in for the long haul now!" Dad was fortunate in regards to the fact he was stationed stateside with the Ordnance Department during 1942. In January 1943 Dad was promoted to Private First Class (PFC), however, he became ill with yellow jaundice and had to be hospitalized. Shortly after recovery, Dad was promoted to Corporal (T-5) in 1944. Partly due to the fact that his younger brother Murray had been sent to Europe with General Patton's Third army, (along with his two brothers in law, Robert and Martin Taylor), and that the Army needed soldiers stateside to be responsible for Ordnance needs, Dad remained stateside until receiving orders for the Aleutians in January 1945. Dad was assigned to the Quartermaster Section, Alaskan Department and was on Shemya and Kiska Islands, until being permanently assigned on Attu.

He had been on three Islands, Shemya, Kiska, and finally Attu where he spent most of his time. He told me a story of when his unit was being taken to Attu on small transport crafts, and a storm suddenly blew in...he said by the grace of God the boats didn't capsize, as in water that cold they all would have died. Dad stated that the only Japanese he saw were frozen dead ones...but they never knew if the Japanese would have attempted another he did his part.

We often spoke of his time there,  I have a few of his Aleutian Island letters which he wrote home to his family in Philadelphia, he expressed his concerns over his Brother, (my Uncle Murray Weinberger), who was with Patton's Third Army, and the fact he hadn't heard from him in quite some time. Little did my Father know that my Uncle Murray was caught up in the "Battle of the Bulge", and was too busy killing Germans to write. My Uncle Murray, while in hand-to-hand combat with the Nazis, managed to survive his ordeal...and only had his wrist watch shot off his wrist (which fell into the Rhine River). He spoke how upset he was to lose the watch as it was a gift from his wife for his birthday which he received shortly before the "Bulge." My two additional Uncles (on my Mother's side), Robert & Martin Taylor also fought in Europe. They also survived, however, Robert was caught by the Nazis and held as a POW...returning home after the war weighing about 75 pounds. None of these great men spoke much of their war-time experiences...modest Heroes of the "Greatest Generation" who are the reason we all live free today...all gone now.

On 22 October 1945 Dad received orders stateside, returning to a victorious America. Arriving home he was greeted by his wife Janet, and their four month old daughter Reyna who had been born on 10 July 1945 while Dad was on Attu. Dad received his Honorable Discharge on 07 November 1945. In one of Dad's homecoming photographs flies an American VJ (Victory over Japan) Day Flag from an upstairs bedroom window of his parents grocery store on 117 West Cumberland Street in Philly. That Flag now sits proudly within my Father's Shadow Box along with his World War Two Decorations. It will always be one of my most cherished possessions.

Mark Weinberger

[Click on each of the photo thumbnails to see an enlarged version.
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1. An Aleutian Boot...complete with a native fox stuffing.
2. This is a Japanese "dozer."
3. The only tree on Attu...artificial, of course.
4. Sylvan on left in front of warehouse.
8. Keeping the quarters clean.
11. Dogs continue to be man's best friend on Attu.
16. Baseball practice on the beach.
17. And more baseball practice.
19. Every GI knows how to run a broom!


Last Updated 04 Jan 2013 12:02
Online since 31 Mar 2008