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.

In July 1944, Major Salinsky was transferred into the 32nd Station Hospital from the 79th Station Hospital.  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-Wessel-Caserta
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).  Captain Wessel was at Camp Rucker, Alabama and probably already a member of the 32nd Station Hospital by October 1, 1942 when his name appears on Special Order No. 128 (Headquarters, Camp Rucker).  He was definitely in the unit by November 2, 1942 when his name appears on Hospital Order 15.  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.

WesselsWedding
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

These officers were not listed on any of the three extant rosters.  Most appear on a list of officers assigned to the unit as of December 24, 1942, Special Order 314, HQ, Fort Benning, Georgia.  Unlike the rosters, this list does not include any assignments.  In most cases, there is only limited information available about their service with the 32nd.

 

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.

 

Nace Ralph Cohen, O-356428 (December 28, 1913 – December 24, 1988)

Needles-Cohen
Captain Nace Cohen in Tlemcen, Algeria (Courtesy of the Needles Family)

Dr. Cohen was born in Montgomery, Alabama to Ralph and Sadie Cohen and grew up in Atlanta.  His father died during the 1918 influenza pandemic.  Dr. Cohen graduated from medical school at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.  His son recalls him doing his residency at a hospital in New York.

Captain Cohen was already a member of the 32nd Station Hospital by December 24, 1942 and he accompanied the unit overseas to Tlemcen, Algeria.  One story that Dr. Cohen’s son recounted to me involved Cohen and Dr. Louis Linn visiting a sheikh in Algeria.  The U.S. Army’s training emphasized that service members who were the guests of local residents should always accept any food and drink offered in order to avoid causing offense.  The host brought out tea which appeared so unappetizing that Dr. Cohen swore you could see the microbes swimming in it!  Dr. Cohen was a Sephardic Jew and spoke Ladino, which the host apparently understood.  When the host was about to pour the tea, Dr. Cohen said something to him. The host poured tea for everyone but Dr. Cohen, and Dr. Linn had no choice but to drink it.

Afterward, Dr. Linn asked Dr. Cohen what he’d said to the host. Dr. Cohen explained that he had apologized to the host for not being able to drink the tea, but said that he had diabetes! Dr. Linn did not end up getting sick from the drink and indeed lived to the ripe old age of 95.  If the story was embellished in any way, Dr. Linn offered no corrections when the story was retold in his presence when the Cohen family visited New York City!

Needles-Linn-FrAlg-Cohen
Dr. Nace Cohen (right) and Dr. Louis Linn (left) posing with a French-Algerian soldier and his pet goat in Algeria, 1943 (Courtesy of the Needles Family)

A clipping in my grandfather’s scrapbook from the company newspaper with a handwritten notation identifying it as being from the fall of 1943 mentions him:

The following night Rodger Bowers served the best hamburgers we’ve had since we left the “old country”.  They were abundant and Lt. Silverman stacked away the greatest number.  Due to rationing laws, and the morale of the home front, we cannot disclose the exact number.  Capt. Hall and Capt. Cohen were only also rans.

Dr. Linn’s letter to Willard Havemeier mentions that Captain Cohen suffered health problems in Algeria; he left the 32nd Station Hospital prior to December 31, 1943.  He married Myrtle Hannah Heiman (1922–2005) in South Carolina in 1944.  The Cohens raised a son and two daughters.  After the war, the Cohens returned to Montgomery.  Dr. Cohen’s son recalls his father mentioning that he selected his specialty (ob-gyn) because he wanted to deal with death as little as possible!  He retired in 1988 after half a century practicing medicine and died later that year in Montgomery, aged 74.

 

Raymond A. Hall, O-209450 (probably June 28, 1906 – December 24, 1980)

The-Cooks
Taken in Algeria in 1943, Ruby Milligan’s caption reads “Bill, Tom, Capt. Hall – the Cooks”.  Note the turkey at their feet, likely brought by 32nd Station Hospital’s supply officer, Captain William C. Sommermeyer. (Courtesy of the Hills Family)

Captain Hall appears as an officer assigned to the 32nd Station Hospital as of December 24, 1942.  A clipping in my grandfather’s scrapbook from the company newspaper with a handwritten notation identifying it as being from the fall of 1943 mentions him:

The following night Rodger Bowers served the best hamburgers we’ve had since we left the “old country”.  They were abundant and Lt. Silverman stacked away the greatest number.  Due to rationing laws, and the morale of the home front, we cannot disclose the exact number.  Capt. Hall and Capt. Cohen were only also rans.

Captain Hall signed a booklet from the unit’s Thanksgiving celebration in the collection of Dr. William A. Carey, Jr. and Ina Bean Carey, indicating he stayed with the unit until at least late November.  However, Captain Hall left the unit prior to December 31, 1943 since he does not appear on the roster as of that date.

I initially failed to find any record of this doctor, until March 2019 when the daughter of Dr. Lowell E. Vinsant sent me a copy of her father’s World War II journal.  In the buddies section of the journal, Dr. Hall’s name appeared with an address in Youngstown, Ohio (also the hometown of Dr. William D. McElroy).   According to information on Ancestry.com, Dr. Hall and his wife Ruth (1906–1975) had one daughter and one son.

 

Louis Linn, O-1689060 (May 14, 1914 – September 3, 2009)

Needles-DrLinnCrop
Dr. Louis Linn in Algeria in 1943 (Courtesy of the Needles Family)

Dr. Linn was born in Newark, New Jersey to Abraham and Anna Linn, Jewish immigrants from Russia.  His brothers and sisters helped put him through medical school.  He married Miriam Louise Wechsler (1919–2007) in 1941.  His first child, a daughter, was born in 1943 while he was overseas during World War II.  The Linns also had a son after the war.

1st Lieutenant Linn was listed with 30 other officers as being a member of the 32nd Station Hospital as of December 24, 1942 at Fort Benning, Georgia.  Although he departed the unit prior to the first extant roster on December 31, 1943, Dr. Linn’s service with the 32nd Station Hospital is particularly well documented thanks to his letter to Willard Havemeier dated July 29, 1998, which Havemeier uploaded to his website.

9-linns-smiling
Dr. Louis Linn and his wife Miriam Linn at Camp Rucker, Alabama in October 1942 (Robert Silverman 8 mm Film)

According to his letter, Dr. Linn joined the U.S. Army in New York City.  He was first stationed at O’Reilly General Hospital, Springfield Missouri.  Dr. Linn continued:

After two months in Missouri, I received orders to join the 32nd at Camp Rucker.  My wife accompanied me on that trip.  We arrived at the camp in the midst of a downpour an the sea of mud in which I found myself was quite discouraging to my wife and I put her on a train to stay with friends in Birmingham until I could rent a place with us with a very dear family in Ozark, Alabama.  I say they were a very dear family for good reason.  I was sitting at a counter in a coffee shop alone and, I will admit homesick, when this older gentleman came over to me, one of the local physicians.  When I told him about the search for a place for my wife and myself, he immediately requested that we stay with him.  We were truly happy there for the months that we stayed at Camp Rucker.

Evidentially, the enlisted men of the 32nd Station Hospital were the test subjects for a study described in one of Dr. Linn’s papers (“The Rorschach Test in the Evaluation of Military Personnel” published in 1946 in the journal Rorschach Research Exchange).  In his letter to Havemeier, Dr. Linn explained:

While waiting for our next assignment at Camp Rucker, I did a Rorschach test on every enlisted man in the outfit.  It was occupational therapy for me and certainly kept me out of trouble.  The paper record of those tests filled to bursting a barracks bag which I had to drag along with me in all subsequent travels of the 32nd until we got to North Africa.  On the high seas, when we were told we might be torpedoed, my only worry was losing the barracks bag with my Rorschach records.  I subsequently wrote a report based on those records which as far as I can make out no one read except me and the editor of the journal who published it.  In spite of that, I think it was a damn good report and I think I can certainly select soldiers who will either succeed or fail in their subsequent army duties following induction based on those tests.

Dr. Linn crossed the Atlantic Ocean with the main body of the 32nd Station Hospital aboard the U.S.S. Ancon.  The funniest anecdote in his letter to Havemeier involves the aftermath of a speech U.S. Army Air Corps Brigadier General Elwood R. Quesada (who Dr. Linn identified as the convoy commander) made to the personnel aboard the Ancon:

I should also add for local color that General Quesada said that in the event we were torpedoed, if anyone through panic or fear, interfered with the rescue operation, the officers on ship (non-medical) carrying side arms were instructed to fire on or kill any obstructionists.  Although I must say I did not take any of this seriously and assumed that the general was having a good time trying to scare the shit out of us.  He concluded his initial meeting that opening morning with the advice that each of us assemble and pray for our lives.  Each denomination was assigned to a specific place on board the ship.  Having toured the various locations, I can confirm the fact that the Catholic and Protestant services were well-attended.  The Jewish service, alas, consisted of about eight or ten frightened boys who welcomed me and asked me to conduct services for them.  While I was fully prepared for duties as a psychiatrist, I did not have the training to function as a rabbi.  However, I rose to the occasion, however briefly and uninspired.  In my subsequent investigations, I discovered that the missing Jewish contingent were all shooting craps or playing poker in one of the lower areas of the deck.  I remember thinking what an optimistic act this was and how each hoped to maximize his spending money when we got to our destination.

It would not be the last maritime adventure that Dr. Linn would be destined to experience during his long lifespan.

Needles-Linn-and-McKee-in-Arab-Section
Dr. Linn (right) with Dr. Lewis McKee in Algeria in 1943 (Courtesy of the Needles Family)

After the 32nd Station Hospital set up in Tlemcen, Algeria in February 1943, Dr. Linn roomed with Drs. Nace Cohen, Lewis McKee, and Candler Willis at the Hotel Transatlantique.  All four officers departed the 32nd Station Hospital before the end of the year.  In Dr. Linn’s case, he was transferred to the 51st Station Hospital in Oran, Algeria, which Dr. Linn wrote “was designated to function exclusively as a psychiatric hospital.”  The date of the transfer is unclear, but since Dr. Linn’s letter mentions the bad impression Lieutenant Colonel Goss made on him, it must have been after Goss assumed command on June 23, 1943.  Dr. Linn continued to serve with the 51st Station Hospital in Italy and France until the end of the war.  His overseas service totaled 33 months.

In July 1956, Dr. Linn and his wife were traveling from New York to Le Havre on the S.S. Île de France when their vessel rescued many of the survivors of the S.S. Andrea Doria after it sank following a collision with the M.S. Stockholm.  Dr. Linn and his colleague, Dr. Paul Friedman, spoke with (and observed) the survivors.  (The following year, they published a paper, “Some Psychiatric Notes on the Andrea Doria Disaster” in The American Journal of Psychiatry.)  One anecdote from the adventure is recorded by Richard Goldstein in his book Desperate Hours: The Epic Rescue of the Andrea Doria:

The psychiatrist Dr. Louis Linn interrupted his interviews of survivors to make a quick trip back to his cabin.  Dr. Linn’s wife, Miriam, had bought him a light bathrobe for the trip, but its texture had annoyed him.  When he saw an elderly Italian woman with nothing to ward off the morning chill, he fetched the bathrobe and draped it around her to a flutter of applause saluting his ostensible generosity.

Dr. Linn continued his practice of psychiatry, accumulating close to 70 years’ experience in the field.  Dr. Linn’s obituary in The New York Times on September 5, 2009 stated:

He was a superb clinician and mentored generations of doctors.  He was a professor of psychiatry at Mt. Sinai Medical Center from the late 1940s until his death and saw his last patient this past Monday.  He contributed great to his field through extensive writing on psychosomatic medicine, disaster psychiatry, child development, psychoanalysis, psychiatric diagnosis, schizophrenia and community psychiatry.

Given that he was still practicing as a psychiatrist until his death at age 95, Dr. Linn surely must have been both the longest serving as well as the last surviving doctor from the 32nd Station Hospital.

 

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.

 

Lewis Middleton McKee, O-348753 (October 4, 1907 – June 20, 1992)

Needles-Lewis-McKee-and-Nace-Cohen-enh
Dr. Lewis McKee (left) with Dr. Nace Cohen (right) in Tlemcen, Algeria in 1943 (Courtesy of the Needles Family)

Dr. McKee was born in Durham, North Carolina, the son of Lewis M. and Ada McKee.  (Evidentially he did not go by Lewis McKee, Jr., based on his military records and gravestone.)  Dr. McKee’s grandfather James McKee was a Confederate soldier who became a physician after the Civil War.

Dr. McKee attended the University of North Carolina.  He married Helen Dickson (1911–1996), with whom he had at least one daughter.  By the time of the 1940 census, he was working as a physician in Durham.  By the time he registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, he was listed as 5 feet, 8 inches (172 cm) tall and weighing 190 lbs. (86 kg) with brown hair and blue eyes.

Needles-Linn-and-McKee-in-Arab-Section
Dr. Lewis McKee (left) with Dr. Louis Linn in Algeria, 1943 (Courtesy of the Needles Family)

According to his Department of Veterans Affairs file, Dr. McKee joined the U.S. Army on July 11, 1942.  1st Lieutenant McKee was already a member of the 32nd Station Hospital by December 24, 1942 when the unit was still at Fort Benning, Georgia.  He accompanied the unit overseas to Tlemcen, Algeria.  According to Dr. Linn’s 1998 letter to Willard Havemeier, Linn was roommates at the Hotel Transatlantique with McKee, Candler Willis, and Nace Cohen.  Dr. Linn mentioned that McKee suffered from health problems; McKee transferred out of the 32nd Station Hospital prior to December 31, 1943.  I don’t have any information about his subsequent military career beyond the fact that he was released from the U.S. Army on December 19, 1945.

I haven’t been able to find any information about his postwar career.  Dr. McKee died in Morehead City, North Carolina, aged 84.

 

Louis C. Roettig, O-375319 (possibly April 13, 1911 – September 14, 1969)

1st Lieutenant Roettig appears as a member of the 32nd Station Hospital as of December 24, 1942.  If he accompanied the unit overseas, he must have been transferred out prior to December 31, 1943.

The most likely match was the Dr. Louis Chandler Roettig who was born in Ohio.  He apparently graduated from medical school at the University of Cincinnati in 1938.  The summer 1941 Cincinnati Alumnus newsletter states he “will be promoted July 1 to the post of resident in research surgery in the Ohio State University Hospital, Columbus.”  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.

 

Candler Arthur Willis, O-1693062 (January 26, 1910 – December 25, 1983)

Candler-Willis
Dr. Candler Willis (Courtesy of the Willis Family)

Dr. Willis was born in North Carolina, the son of Dr. Arthur Ponder Willis and Eloise Candler Willis.  Candler was a fourth generation doctor.  Dr. Willis married Helen Gill (1911–1997), a teacher on December 28, 1935.  The couple raised a daughter and a son.  Dr. Willis graduated from medical school at Duke University in 1936.  After an internship at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin and a residency at Watts Hospital in Durham, he joined his father’s medical practice in 1938.  Dr. Willis recalled in a 1983 newspaper article that back then, a house call only cost $2!  Dr. Willis also worked at three other local hospitals: Aston Park, Memorial Mission, and St. Joseph’s.

When Dr. Willis registered for the draft in 1940, he was listed as being 6 feet, 2 inches (188 cm) tall and weighing 213 lbs. (96.6 kg) with brown hair and brown eyes.  According to his Department of Veterans Affairs file, Dr. Willis entered U.S. Army on July 15, 1942.  1st Lieutenant Willis was already a member of the 32nd Station Hospital by December 24, 1942 at Fort Benning, Georgia.  He accompanied the unit to Tlemcen, Algeria, where he shared quarters at the Hotel Transatlantique with Drs. Louis Linn, Nace Cohen, and Lewis McKee.  As of June 24, 1943 (when he sent a letter to The Enka Voice), he was still with the unit.  However, later that same year he left the unit due to poor health, and was discharged for medical reasons on December 26, 1943.

In an August 24, 1983 article in The Asheville Citizen (Asheville, North Carolina) “Crowfields Retiree Recalls Life As Country Doctor” by Nancy McGraw, Dr. Willis looked back on his career:

The question of why he wanted to study medicine is a difficult one, Dr. Willis said. “I just wanted to be a country doctor. I enjoy medicine…I believe a doctor’s life has got to be like a pastor’s, service to the people.”

The article states “In 1947, Dr. Willis built the Enka Medical Center.  He practiced there until his retirement.”  He retired on January 26, 1978 after spending over 40 years practicing medicine.  He died in Asheville, North Carolina, aged 73.

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Last updated March 27, 2019

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