Doctors of the 32nd Station Hospital: Part III (Dispensary and Out-Patient, Radiology, and Unknown Assignment)

This article is the fifth in a series of articles about known members of the 32nd Station Hospital during World War II.  Names are listed in alphabetical order within each section.

Dispensary and Out-Patient Service

Lester Vance Salinsky, O-371723 (January 22, 1911 – November 19, 1985)

Dr. Salinsky grew up in Wisconsin.  He graduated from Sheboygan High School and graduated from the University of Wisconsin with his M.D.  in June 1936.  He performed his residency at the Children’s Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri and later worked with the Civilian Conservation Corps in North Dakota.  He joined the U.S. Army in February 10, 1941.  A January 22, 1942 article in The Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) states he had been promoted to captain while serving with the 77th Field Artillery.  He went overseas in February 1943.  Another article from The Sheboygan Press on September 11, 1943 states that now-Major Salinsky had served in French Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Sicily.

On July 31, 1944, Major Salinsky transferred into the 32nd Station Hospital from the 79th Station Hospital.  Upon his arrival, he was assigned as Receiving and Disposition Officer.  As of December 31, 1944 he held the title of Dispensary Surgeon, Admission and Disposition Officer.  He left the unit in July 1945, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel before leaving the U.S. Army on March 7, 1946.

Dr. Salinsky married his wife Louise (1922–2009), a writer, in Illinois in December 1956.  I haven’t found any record of the couple having children.

Howard Elias Shapiro, O-419456 (November 23, 1917 – July 17, 1998)

Dr. Shapiro was born in Brooklyn, New York and entered the military on November 20, 1942.  Captain Shapiro joined the hospital in August 1944 via the 7th Replacement Depot.  In the 32nd Station Hospital’s September 1944 report, he is listed as being in charge of the hospital’s new Venereal Disease Section (“where rapid penicillin therapy was instituted for patients who previously would have been sent to the V.D. center in Naples”).  As of December 31, 1944 he held the position of Assistant Admission and Disposition Officer.

Dr. Shapiro was released from the military on April 15, 1946 with a rank of major.  That same year, he married his wife Joanne (1923–2016).  The couple raised a daughter and a son.  Dr. Shapiro died in Sarasota, Florida and is buried in the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell.

John F. Simon, O-337959 (possibly July 30, 1908 – February 24, 1999)

Lieutenant Colonel Simon first appeared on the May 1, 1944 roster as Dispensary Surgeon, Admission and Disposition Officer.  Lieutenant Colonel Goss’s June 1944 report indicates that Dr. Simon was “returned to the United States for reassignment.”

I found a record for a Dr. John Franklin Simon who was born in Garnett, Kansas, the son of Charles (a farmer) and Inez Simon.  His grave lists him as being a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army.  He married Lillian Martin (1904–1982) in Missouri in 1931.  As of the 1940 census he was a medical doctor working in Alva, Oklahoma with his wife and one son.  According to his Department of Veterans Affairs file, he served in the U.S. Army from December 15, 1940 to November 20, 1945.  He apparently died in Colorado, aged 90.  I have been unable to confirm that this is same officer who served in the 32nd Station Hospital, but his rank fits.

Radiology Section

Isadore Jay Wessel, O-1696175 (July 24, 1906 – July 29, 1999)

Major Isadore J. Wessel at the 32nd Station Hospital Compound in Caserta, Italy, probably in 1944 (Robert Silverman Collection)

Dr. Wessel was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the sixth child of Jacob (listed in various sources as a tinsmith and roofer) and Elizabeth Weselkowsky, Jewish immigrants from Russia.  Sometime after the 1920 census, the family changed their last name to Wessel.  Wessel attended the University of Pennsylvania, and graduated from Hahnemann Medical College in 1931.  His senior yearbook at Hahnemann described him as “rarely perturbed” and stated that he “didn’t waiver, he didn’t become excited, he didn’t emote.”  The yearbook stated that after graduation he would be working at the Women’s Homeopathic Hospital.  By 1940 he was on the faculty at Hahnemann as an Associate in Gastro-Enterology.   When he registered for the draft in 1940, he was listed as being 5 feet, 9 inches (175 cm) and 166 lbs (75 kg) with grown hair and gray eyes.

According to his Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Application for World War II Compensation, Dr. Wessel entered the U.S. Army on July 20, 1942 at Billings General Hospital (Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana).  From there, he was transferred to the 32nd Station Hospital, joining the unit at Camp Rucker on August 20, 1942.  He was listed as Chief of Radiology Sectionthough he is actually the only officer listed in that section—on all three extant officer rosters (December 31, 1943, May 1, 1944, and December 31, 1944).  He was promoted to major on February 13, 1944.  The last mention of Dr. Wessel in the 32nd Station Hospital’s reports involve him going on a temporary duty assignment to the 70th General Hospital in April 1945.  There is no mention of him rejoining the unit, and his Application for World War II compensation states that his foreign service ended on June 22, 1945.  Dr. Wessel left active duty May 13, 1946 at Fort Meade, Maryland.

Florence Benichou and Isadore Wessel at a tea party (probably held in the garden of the officers’ billet at the Hotel Transatlantique) in Tlemcen, Algeria prior to the Wessels’ wedding in October 1943. (Robert Silverman 8 mm Film)

Dr. Wessel met his future wife Florence Benichou (1915–1981) in Algeria during the war; they married in Tlemcen, Algeria in October 1943, not long before the 32nd Station Hospital shipped out to Italy.  When I contacted the Wessels’ son in the fall of 2018, I was surprised to learn that my grandfather Dr. Robert Silverman helped introduce the couple!  The ever gregarious Robert made friends with a local French family, who invited him to dinner for one of the Jewish High Holidays.  Robert brought the more reserved Isadore along, who noticed a beautiful blond woman across the room.  The rest was history!

Oct 1943 Wedding Tea Party
Tea party before the Wessels’ wedding in Tlemcen, Algeria (Robert Silverman Collection)

The Wessels were not reunited until Florence sailed from Oran to Baltimore after the war, arriving in December 1945.  The Wessels had two children, a son and a daughter.  Dr. Wessel died in Pennsylvania, aged 93.

Unknown Assignment

When first published, this article contained the mini-biographies of eight doctors who were not listed on any of the three extant rosters.  Most appeared on a list of officers assigned to the unit as of December 24, 1942, Special Order 314, (Headquarters, Fort Benning, Georgia), but left the unit prior to December 31, 1943.

However, in June 2019, I received a copy of an organizational chart from the collection of Dr. Gayland L. Hagelshaw, who commanded the unit from May 23, 1943 until June 23, 1943.  This chart revealed that Drs. Nace Cohen, Raymond Hall, and Candler Willis were assigned to the 32nd Station Hospital’s Surgical Service, while Drs. Louis Linn and Lewis McKee were assigned to the Medical Service.  Their mini-biographies were subsequently moved to the appropriate article.  As of July 2019 only three biographies remain in this section.

Harry H. Block, O-508975 (dates of birth and death unknown)

Captain Block was assigned to the 32nd Station Hospital via the 7th Replacement Depot in August 1944.  He was transferred to the Detachment of Patients, 300th General Hospital in September 1944.

A possible match is the Dr. Harry H. Block born in New York circa 1907 and who appears on the 1940 census living in New York City.  At the time, he and his wife Tillian had a daughter.  As of 1935 he had been living in Chicago.  Since there were several men named Harry Block born in New York around that time, his dates of birth and death remain unknown.  I have been unable to learn anything else about this doctor.

Samuel Harry Mallinger, O-1694427 (December 27, 1911 – August 6, 1997)

Dr. Mallinger was born in Homestead, Pennsylvania to Max and Anna Mallinger.  According to his Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Application for World War II Compensation, he joined the U.S. Army on January 16, 1943 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and went overseas on April 2, 1943.  Dr. Mallinger apparently joined the 32nd Station Hospital after December 31, 1943 but transferred out of the unit prior to the next extant roster on May 1, 1944.  He is mentioned in the January 1 to May 1, 1944 report only in terms of his promotion to captain on March 31, 1944.  He left the U.S. Army on January 8, 1946.  As of 1950 he was living in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania with his wife Rhea and one son.  He died in San Diego, California.

Louis Chandler Roettig, O-375319 (April 13, 1911 – September 14, 1969)

Dr. Roettig in the center of this a detail from a group photo that was probably taken during training stateside (Courtesy of the Weiner family)

Roettig was born in Ohio.  He apparently graduated from medical school at the University of Cincinnati in 1938.  The summer 1941 Cincinnati Alumnus newsletter stated he “will be promoted July 1 to the post of resident in research surgery in the Ohio State University Hospital, Columbus.”  It was a comparison to his yearbook photo with the photo above that made it possible to positively identify him.

1st Lieutenant Roettig joined the 32nd Station Hospital at Camp Rucker, Alabama on August 7, 1942.  He was with the unit during moves to Camp Benning, Georgia and Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.  He accompanied the unit overseas, on January 14, 1943 and was with the unit during early operations in Tlemcen, Algeria, but soon transferred to a convalescent hospital and from there to the Zone of the Interior; he was dropped from the 32nd Station Hospital organization effective April 23, 1943.

He and his wife Ann Benedict Roettig (1911–1963) had two sons and two daughters.  After Ann’s death, he remarried Mary Jacquelyn Roettig (1929–1969) in Nevada in 1965.  He died in the Bahamas, aged 58.

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Last updated July 6, 2020

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