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 (War Without Guns via the U.S. National Library of Medicine)

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.  According to the book War Without Guns: A Record of Service of Wisconsin Physicians in World War II, Dr. Salinsky was commissioned as a 1st lieutenant in the U.S. Army in Medora, North Dakota on February 10, 1941.  He served in the 77th Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Russell, Texas.  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 to North Africa 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.  Indeed, War Without Guns reported that he earned an “Invasion Arrowhead for Sicily” and the Purple Heart; the book indicated he was present at fighting along the Volturno.

On July 31, 1944, Major Salinsky transferred into the 32nd Station Hospital in Caserta, Italy from the 79th Station Hospital.  Upon his arrival, he was assigned as Receiving and Disposition Officer.  That same day, he became receiving and disposition officer (M.O.S. 3120), a duty he continued to perform through the end of his service with the unit.  On October 2, 1944 he, Colonel Goss, and Captain Sommermeyer went on detached service to the Peninsular Base Section Rest Camp Sorrento.  They returned on October 6.  He was hospitalized at the 32nd Station Hospital on December 18, 1944.  He returned to duty on January 14, 1945 and left for the Peninsular Base Section Rest Camp Sorrento the same day.  He returned to duty on January 19.

On March 18, 1945, Major Salinsky went to the Peninsular Base Section Rest Camp, returning on March 25.  He went to the U.S. Army Rest Center in Cannes, France on June 30, 1945, returning on July 13.  Major Salinsky was transferred to the 70th General Hospital on July 16, 1945 per Special Order No. 191, Headquarters Mediterranean Theater of Operations, United States Army dated July 10, 1945, but remained temporarily attached to the 32nd Station Hospital until his departure on July 18.  He was promoted to lieutenant colonel before leaving the U.S. Army on March 7, 1946.  As of 1949, he was in civilian practice in Milwaukee.

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. He was transferred to the 125th Ordnance Battalion effective September 2, 1945.

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 (Isadore Weselkowsky), 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 remained in this section.  One year later, I began cataloging the unit’s morning reports, which revealed the assignments of the remaining three officers: Harry H. Block, Samuel H. Mallinger, and Louis C. Roettig.  These biographies will be moved for the appropriate services and the section left empty.

Harry H. Block (likely Harry Hilton Block), O-508975 (probably January 15, 1907 – July 28, 1961)

Note: This article will be moved to the Surgical Service page shortly, now that his assignment is known.

Captain Block joined the 32nd Station Hospital in Caserta, Italy on August 12, 1944 via the 7th Replacement Depot.  The same day, he joined the unit’s Surgical Service.  He was transferred to the Detachment of Patients, 300th General Hospital in September 1944.

A likely match is the Dr. Harry H. Block born in Manhattan in New York City on January 15, 1907.  His parents appear to have been Joseph and Olga Block, Jewish immigrants from Russia.  The family was probably recorded on the 1910 census living in Manhattan and 1930 census living in Ann Arbor, Michigan (although his parents’ names were recorded as Joseph and Annie Black).

A 33-year-old Harry H. Block was recorded on the census on April 2, 1940 as living at 1913 67th Street in Brooklyn.  He was listed as a doctor working a Civilian Conversation Corps camp.  At the time, he and his wife Lillian (who had been born in Russia) had a three-year-old daughter (who had been in Illinois).  As of 1935 the couple had been living in Chicago.  Curiously, on April 9, 1940, there was also a census record for a Harry Hilton Block listed as a lodger living in Benton Harbor, Michigan.  He was listed as 33 years old, born in New York, living in Chicago in 1935, and a physician and surgeon at a C.C.C. camp.  Though each person was supposed to be recorded on the census based on where they were on April 1, 1940, it is pretty clear that this was a duplicate entry.

There is a draft card dated October 16, 1940 for a Harry Hiltom [sic] Block born on January 1, 1907 and living in Brooklyn.  Unlike some draft cards, his didn’t have an occupation field, though he described himself as married and self-employed, with an address of 265 Quentin Road in Brooklyn.  He was described as standing 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighing 200 lbs., with brown hair and eyes.

The only evidence of military service connecting the Dr. Block from Brooklyn with the 32nd Station Hospital’s Captain Block are a pair of cards from the National Jewish Welfare Board Bureau of War Records.  The more detailed of the two, dated June 21, 1944, listed a 37-year-old Captain Harry H. Block (with the same address in Brooklyn as the 1940 census but not the draft card).  His wife was listed as Lillyan Block.  The card stated he was a a Jewish serviceman who had been wounded during the war.

Some newspaper articles indicate that a Dr. Harry H. Block was living in Brooklyn as of 1953.  A Harry Hilton Block made an application on March 6, 1958 to the California Board of Medication Examiners.  The 1960 State of California Department of Professional and Vocational Standards Board of Medical Examiners Directory listed a physician named Harry H. Block who graduated from the Chicago Medical School in 1935.  Dr. Harry H. Block died in Los Angeles, California on July 28, 1961 (per a list of deceased medical practitioners in the California Board of Medical Examiners Directory 1962–1963).  The California Death Index entry for him gave the same date of birth as the draft card and date of death as the directory.  Though I can’t be absolutely certain, the details of the Dr. Harry H. Block who lived in New York, Illinois, and California are all consistent with one another.  I have been unable to learn anything else about this doctor.

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

Note: This article will be moved to the Medical Service page shortly, now that his assignment is known.

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.  1st Lieutenant Mallinger joined the 32nd Station Hospital in Caserta, Italy on February 14, 1944.  He was assigned to the Medical Service the same day.  Dr. Mallinger transferred out of the unit prior to May 1, 1944.  A March 31, 1944 morning report stated that he was promoted to captain with an effective date of rank of March 24, 1944.  He transferred out of the unit on April 25, 1944.  The morning report from that day is poorly microfilmed, but he was definitely transferred to another station hospital, possibly the 225th Station Hospital.  He was separated from the U.S. Army on January 8, 1946.  As of 1950 he was living in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania with his wife Rhea and one son.

His headstone stated he was a captain in the U.S. Army during World War II and that he earned the Purple Heart.  He died in San Diego, California.

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

Note: This article will be moved to the Surgical Section page shortly, now that his assignment is known.

Dr. Roettig in the center of this 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 unit at Camp Rucker, Alabama on August 7, 1942.  He was one of the unit’s first eight officers, all of whom joined the unit that same day.  He went on leave beginning September 26, 1942, returning on October 2.  He departed Camp Rucker for Fort Benning with 2nd Lieutenant Brenneman and eight enlisted men on October 24, 1942, two days before the main body of the unit.  He left Fort Benning with the rest of the unit by train on December 27, 1942, arriving at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey the following day.

On January 13, 1943, in preparation for the unit’s departure from the New York Port of Embarkation, Dr. Roettig was assigned to Detachment No. 707 (accompanying 2nd Lieutenants Lange, LeCain, McCann, and McCormick aboard an unknown ship in convoy U.G.F.-4 other than U.S.S. Ancon, which carried the main body).  Shipping out on January 14, 1943, he arrived at Mers-el-Kébir, Algeria on January 26, 1943.  The following day, he disembarked and entered staging with the rest of the unit at Bouisseville, Algeria.  He traveled with the rest of the unit to Tlemcen, Algeria on February 18, 1943 to begin operations.  He was named assistant chief of surgical service on March 6, 1943, but was hospitalized that same day. He was apparently transferred to 2nd Convalescent Hospital circa April 13–16, 1943.  An April 23, 1943 morning report stated that he had been “evacuated [from] 2nd Convalescent Hosp to Zone of Interior [Continental United States] and [dropped from] 32nd Sta. Hosp.”

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

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Last updated June 1, 2022

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