Dentists of the 32nd Station Hospital

Although this is the sixth in a series of articles about the men and women of the 32nd Station Hospital (with at least another five to go), this one is particularly important to me on a personal level.  My grandfather Robert Silverman was the unit’s longest-serving dentist, spending a total of 33 months with the hospital.  One of the most rewarding aspects of this project has been learning so much about both my grandfather and the men with whom he worked closely for almost three years.  The following dentists are listed alphabetically.

Howard Bertram Goldstein (Howard B. Grayson), O-474871 (February 22, 1918 – May 14, 2006)

Dr. Howard B. Goldstein during World War II (Courtesy of the Grayson Family)

Howard Bertram Goldstein was born in New York City, the son of Moe (Morris) and Alice Goldstein.  At the time he registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, Goldstein was a student at the University of Pennsylvania Dental School.  He was described as standing 5 feet, 10½ inches tall and weighing 170 lbs., with brown hair and eyes.  His home address was listed as being in Union City, New Jersey.  The 1940 census recorded his parents as Moe (who was born in New York) and Alice Goldstein (who was born in Russia).

Dr. Goldstein was not listed in this article when it was first published.  His name appeared on a list compiled for the 1982 reunion as a someone who had lost contact with the rest of the unit due to an outdated or incorrect address.  His last known address was listed as 260 Harrison Avenue in Jersey City, New Jersey.

I found an article, printed in the Asbury Park Evening Press (Asbury Park, New Jersey) on February 26, 1946, about the upcoming marriage—scheduled for March 3, 1946—between “Dr. Howard B. Goldstein, a dentist, 45 Central avenue, Lakewood, N. J., and Miss Blossom Minchenberg, 320 Central Park West, New York”.  The summary of his career leaves little doubt he was the Howard B. Goldstein on the draft card:

Dr. Goldstein was born in New York, the son of Morris and Alice Wer[n]er Goldstein.  He attended Cornell university and was graduated in 1941 from the University of Pennsylvania Dental school.  He returned recently after 31 months in Africa and Italy where he held the rank of major.

Initially I thought he might have served in the unit sometime during 1943 after the departure of Captain Earl Shindell and before the arrival of Captain Howard A. Laile.  Unfortunately, unit records during this time are very incomplete.  However, I overlooked that there was a record of his arrival at the 32nd Station Hospital in June 1945, possibly replacing Captain Robert Silverman or Captain Carl Mason (who were transferred that same month).  It seems surprising that he would have ended up on the reunion list, as other officers who served for only a few months at the end of the war did not.’s algorithms identified a likely name change: A Howard Bertram Grayson with the same birth date, birth place, and parents Moe Grayson [sic] and Alice Werner was listed in the U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index.  This proved the key to linking him to the 32nd Station Hospital.  A September 21, 1946 notice in The Jersey Journal stated that “Howard B. Goldstein and Blossom M. Goldstein, his wife, reside at 260 Harrison Avenue, Jersey City.”  That was the same address in the 1982 reunion document.  The notice stated that the Goldsteins had applied to the Hudson County Court of Common Pleas to change their last name to Grayson.  The couple raised two daughters.

I contacted one of his daughters, Sandra Grayson, who was able to provide a summary of Dr. Goldstein’s career based on his existing papers and the return addresses on his letters.  She told me he was due to be commissioned, but was drafted first.  He entered the U.S. Army at the rank of private on March 6, 1942 at Fort Dix, New Jersey (with service number 32246357).  She told me that served at Camp Claibourne, Louisiana “with the 58th Medical Battalion as a dentist and was honorably discharged on May 31, 1942 to accept his commission.”  He was commissioned the following day with a new service number, O-474871.

Dr. Goldstein went overseas on April 18, 1943, arriving in North Africa nine days later.  His daughter advised that some of his time was in Algiers, but that his unit at that time was unknown.  She told me that “He was transferred to and arrived in Italy on July 3 1944 and initially served in the 8th Medical General Dispensary Unit. ”  Dr. Goldstein joined the 32nd Station Hospital on June 21, 1945 from “Hq Comd AF”, shortly before the departures of Drs. Carl Mason and Robert Silverman.  Dr. Goldstein’s daughter continued:

In a letter to Blossom Minchenberg, later his wife and my mother, he referenced “moving down the road” and becoming the “boss man” in the new unit In a letter from the 32nd Station Hospital unit, he described ” the transition was easy” and that they “seem to have a good group of officers”.  In a letter dated June 23, 1945, he indicated that “the 32nd is reminiscent of my internship”, that we “have some really sick patients”, that “I’m fully responsible here….However, I don’t administer only….I do most of the surgery, too.”

On June 28th, he wrote, “The 32nd is exactly like Camp Lee…the same quarters, routine, etc..”

Captain Goldstein was transferred to the 300th General Hospital on August 1, 1945.  He was rotated back to the United States on Nov. 13, 1945, arriving December 1, 1945 and separated from the U.S. Army effective March 5, 1946.

After the war, Dr. Grayson opened a private practice in Manhattan and later, a second in Scarsdale, New York.  After retiring in 1988, he and his wife divided their time between Boynton Beach, Florida and Larchmont, New York. In 2006, the couple celebrated their 60th anniversary. Dr. Grayson died in Boynton Beach, Florida on May 14, 2006, aged 88.

Howard Andrew Laile, O-357221 (September 8, 1911 – May 29, 2002)

Dr. Howard A. Laile, almost certainly taken in Algeria in 1943 (Courtesy of the Weiner Family)

Dr. Laile was born in Ohio, the son of Irvin (who worked as a plumber, mechanist and later, a steel plant inspector) and Stella Laile.  Dr. Laile graduated from the Ohio State University College of Dentistry in 1937.   According to a summary of his career in the 1953 and 1961 Official National Guard Registers, he was commissioned into the Organized Reserve Corps as a 1st lieutenant on June 14, 1937.  He went on active duty on April 1, 1941 and was promoted to captain on August 2, 1941.

Captain Howard A. Laile, probably taken at the Hotel Transatlantique in Tlemcen, Algeria in 1943 (Courtesy of the Weiner Family)

Captain Laile joined the 32nd Station Hospital from the 7th Station Hospital on September 8, 1943.  He exchanged places with Captain Earl Shindell and became the 32nd Station Hospital’s Chief of Dental Service.  He was one of several officers who signed a Thanksgiving celebration program on November 25, 1943.  He was promoted to major on February 15, 1944.  On April 3, 1945, Major Laile rotated home to the United States on temporary duty for “rehabilitation, recuperation and recovery purposes” via the 7th Replacement Depot.  There’s no indication he returned to the unit before it was deactivated that summer.

Dental officers of the 32nd Station Hospital: Captain Robert Silverman (left), Captain Irving S. Weiner (center), and Major Howard A. Laile (right), taken in Cesarta, Italy between February and August 1944 (Courtesy of the Wessel Family)

After leaving the 32nd Station Hospital, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel on January 8, 1946.  A July 20, 1952 article in the Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) stated: “Recently named acting battalion commander of the 112th Medical Battalion, 37th Infantry Division, is Lt. Col. Howard A. Laile.”  He apparently remained on active duty until the summer of 1953.

Dr. Laile and his wife Jane raised a daughter and a son.  According to his obituary in the Times Bulletin (Van Wert, Ohio), Dr. Laile practiced in Columbus, Ohio for three decades prior to his retirement.  Dr. Laile died in Columbus, aged 90.

Carl Mason, O-399743 (April 12, 1912 – April 1, 2003)

Captain Philip Opper (left), Captain Robert Silverman (center), and Captain Carl Mason (right) at the 32nd Station Hospital officers’ club in Caserta, Italy in 1945 (Robert Silverman Collection)

Dr. Mason was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts to Samuel (a carpenter) and Dora Mason, who immigrated from Russia.  According to Dr. Mason’s son, he attended college in Iowa, followed by dental school at Tufts College, graduating around 1939.  He is listed as a dentist in various Brockton, Massachusetts directories from 1941 to 1951 (though absent during World War II).

Captain Philip Opper (left) and Captain Carl Mason (right) relaxing at the 32nd Station Hospital compound in Caserta. The note on the back to my grandmother states “I can appreciate your impression of Mason.” That may suggest it was taken shortly after he arrived in August 1944. (Robert Silverman Collection)

There is limited information available about Dr. Mason’s military service prior to him joining the 32nd Station Hospital.  Dr. Mason’s son recalled his father specifically mentioning that he served on Sicily, and that for part of his military career he was assigned to a field unit.  Indeed, Captain Mason transferred into the 32nd Station Hospital on August 28, 1944 from the 400th Anti-Aircraft Artillery (Automatic Weapons) Battalion, exchanging places with Captain Irving S. Weiner.  Captain Mason was placed on detached service with the Airborne Training Center’s headquarters in September 1944, but returned to the 32nd Station Hospital in November.  On the December 31, 1944 roster, Captain Mason was listed with the title of Dental Surgeon.  He transferred to the 24th General Hospital on June 23, 1945.

Some time in the early 1950s, Dr. Mason moved his practice to Natick, Massachusetts.  He retired around 1978 or 1979.  Dr. Mason married Thelma Young (1914– 2009) in 1950.  He had one daughter from an earlier marriage; he and Thelma also raised a son and a daughter.  After his retirement, the Masons moved to Boca Raton, Florida.  He died in Florida, aged 90.

Earl Shindell, O-398824 (October 24, 1913 – October 12, 2002)

Captain Earl Shindell (left) posing with the 32nd Station Hospital’s other dentists, 1st Lieutenant Robert Silverman (center) and 1st Lieutenant Irving Weiner (right) in Tlemcen, Algeria in 1943 (Courtesy of the Weiner Family)

Dr. Shindell was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  As of the 1920 census he was living in Boston with his father Jacob (a Jewish immigrant from Russia) and an older sister and brother.  As of the 1940 census, he was living in Boston.

Still frame of 32nd Station Hospital Dentists in Tlemcen, Algeria with Robert Silverman at center and Irving Weiner at right, 1943.  Earl Shindell may be the man on the left, but the identification is not confirmed.  If it’s not Dr. Shindell, that would suggest another dentist replaced him briefly prior to the arrival of Captain Howard A. Laile.  (Robert Silverman 8 mm Film)

Captain Shindell joined the 32nd Station Hospital on November 26, 1942 at Fort Benning, Georgia from the Medical Department, 4th Service Command.  On December 5, 1942, he was appointed chief of dental service.  He accompanied the unit overseas to Algeria.

In his journal, Dr. Lowell E. Vinsant reported that “Shindell bucked the C.O. and was transferred.”  Captain Shindell was transferred to the 7th Station Hospital on September 7, 1943, exchanging places with Captain Howard A. Laile, who joined the unit the following day.  Alice Griffin’s September 25, 1943 letter to her family reported:

Our mess officer & supply officer & chief dentist have gone & they say there are two more doctors going.  They say this last group were shang-haied out.

Details of Dr. Shindell’s subsequent military career are unknown.

Dr. Shindell and his wife Lee in 1977 (Courtesy of the Carey Family)

Dr. Shindell married Lee Bialik (died 2019; according to Dr. Shindell’s great-nephew, she was related to famous Jewish poet Hayim Nahman Bialik) in New York in 1952.  The couple did not have children.  The Shindells later moved to Brookline, Massachusetts.  A newspaper ad listed him as a retired Associate Clincial Professor at the Tufts University School of Dentistry.  Dr. Shindell’s great-nephew recalled that Dr. Shindell and his wife moved to Israel after his retirement, where he died, aged 88.

Robert Silverman, O-1689303 (October 8, 1914 – December 16, 1978)

1st Lieutenant Robert Silverman in 1942 or 1943 (Robert Silverman Collection)

My grandfather Robert Silverman, known as Bob to his friends, was born in New York to Israel (a tailor) and Anna or Annie Silverman, Jewish immigrants from Russia (present day Belarus in Israel’s case).

Robert Silverman’s New York University College of Dentistry graduation photo, 1939 (Silverman Family Collection)

Robert graduated from New York University College of Dentistry in 1939.  In September 1939, he started a private practice at 1 Hanson Place in Brooklyn.  Beginning in April 1940, he also worked part time at Cumberland Hospital, with the title of Assistant Visiting Dental Surgeon.

Robert and his future wife Lucille circa 1940 (Silverman Family Collection)

Somewhere around the middle of 1935, Robert began dating Lucille Segal (1914–1982), my grandmother.  They married at Mount Neboh Temple in New York City on January 12, 1941.  Robert’s friend Dr. Herb Olian mentioned that the long courtship (for the time) was due to the tough financial situation of the Great Depression era.

Robert and Lucille Silverman wedding portrait, January 1941 (Silverman Family Collection)

After the United States entered World War II, its military began a massive expansion.  Robert was commissioned as a 1st lieutenant in the U.S. Army on June 19, 1942.  He reported for duty at Camp Pickett, Virginia, a U.S. Army Medical Replacement Training Center, on July 27.  Not long after, he was ordered to join the 32nd Station Hospital at Camp Rucker, Alabama by August 12, 1942.  The unit’s morning reports stated that he arrived for duty that day.

In late December 1942 or early January 1943, while the 32nd Station Hospital was briefly stationed at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, Robert had an opportunity to visit his family in New York.  This must have been the last time that he saw his mother, who died in September 1944 while he was still overseas.  Robert’s father died only two months after his return from the war.

Dr. Robert Silverman in action in Tlemcen, Algeria during 1943. (Robert Silverman Collection)

Robert was promoted to captain on November 3, 1943 while serving in Tlemcen, Algeria.  He continued with 32nd Station Hospital after it relocated to Caserta, Italy.  Robert was listed with the title of Dental Surgeon on the three extant 32nd Station Hospital rosters (December 31, 1943, May 1, 1944, and December 31, 1944), though his Military Occupational Specialty is actually recorded as Dental Officer (3170) rather than Oral Surgeon (3171) on his Officer Qualifications Record.

Robert Silverman in front of the 32nd Station Hospital’s headquarters in Caserta, Italy in 1944 or 1945. Image made from a combination of two frames in the same scene from his film. (Robert Silverman 8 mm Film)

What survives of Robert’s wartime photos, 8 mm film, and correspondence focuses more on his travels and his hospital friends, with relatively little focus on the hospital.  Indeed, when I contacted Willard Havemeier circa January 2002, he told me that while he didn’t know Robert well, he remembered that Robert was always “seeking out local color”, visiting new places and capturing them on film.

Robert’s sons recall only three stories involving the war.  Both recall him telling of the nearly catastrophic air raid on the 32nd Station Hospital.  My uncle remembers that Robert mentioned that he once spent eight hours operating on a soldier who had attempted suicide by shooting himself in the mouth with a .45 pistol.  My father also recalls that after the war, when Robert treated nuns in his private practice, he would regale them with the story about his audience with the pope during the war, without mentioning that there were many hundreds of other soldiers there at the same time!

Captain Robert Silverman in Egypt at the entrance to King Tut’s tomb, May 1945 (Robert Silverman Collection)

In May 1945, Robert visited Egypt with Major Murray Maurer and Lieutenant Colonel George Evans.  (Dr. Maurer was not a 32nd Station Hospital officer, but a photograph indicates he visited the hospital’s officer club at least once in late 1944.)  In addition to Egypt, Robert also visited the British Mandate of Palestine (now Israel) and explored Jerusalem.

On June 23, 1945, Robert left the 32nd Station Hospital and served brief stints with a number of different units.  The 32nd Station Hospital’s June 1945 report and the unit’s morning reports indicates Robert was transferred to the 12th General Hospital.  His stay must have been brief, since his Officer Qualifications Record doesn’t mention the 12th General Hospital at all, instead stating he was with the 70th General Hospital in Florence from June 1945 to July 1945 and the 8th General Dispensary in Naples from July 1945 to August 1945.  However, his records jacket also reveals temporary duty assignments to the 603rd Ordnance Base Armament Maintenance Battalion and 10th Port of Embarkation.

the silvermans circa 1953
Robert and his sons circa 1953 (Silverman Family Collection)

Robert was released from the U.S. Army at Camp Dix in October 1945 and resumed his private dental practice.  Robert and Lucille raised two children, my father and uncle.  It is unclear if Robert stayed in touch with anyone from the 32nd Station Hospital, but a man in a group photograph at the unit’s 1962 reunion in New York City (seated at the back left table at far left) strongly resembles him.

Robert-Silverman-1960s-or- 1970s
Dr. Robert Silverman in his office; the photo is undated but must have been taken in the 1960s or 1970s (Silverman Family Collection)

At some point after the war, the Silverman family moved into a house with a garage that Robert converted into a dental office.  The downside was that family dinners were frequently interrupted by patients who felt that they couldn’t wait for regular business hours; Robert evidently did not turn anyone away, much to Lucille’s chagrin.

By the 1960s, Robert was tired of dentistry and went back to school.  He earned his master of public health degree from the Columbia University School of Public Health & Administrative Medicine around 1966.  However, he soon left the jobs that he took in his new field and reopened his private practice.  Despite his worsening health, Robert continued to practice dentistry until his death in New York, aged 64.

Future articles in the forthcoming Collections section of this site will cover Robert’s story, photographs, scrapbook, and documents in greater detail.

Irving Solwin Weiner, O-482547 (January 5, 1915 – July 28, 2001)

An undated wartime portrait of Dr. Irving Weiner (Courtesy of the Weiner Family)

Dr. Weiner was born in New York City, the seventh child of Harris and Eva Weiner.  His father (a tailor) and mother were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania and Poland respectively (both part of the Russian Empire at the time).  In 1916, the family moved to Connecticut and Weiner grew up in Hartford.  He attended Connecticut State College (later renamed University of Connecticut).  In 1939, Dr. Weiner graduated from dental school at the Baltimore School of Dental Surgery (also known as the Dental School, University of Maryland, Baltimore) and began practicing in Hartford.  When he registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, he was listed as being 5 feet, 9 inches (175 cm) and 165 lbs (75 kg) with brown hair and blue eyes.

A young Irving Weiner, almost certainly taken during his training at the Baltimore School of Dental Surgery (Courtesy of the Weiner Family)

According to his Department of Veterans Affairs B.I.R.L.S. file, Dr. Weiner joined the U.S. Army on July 7, 1942.  1st Lieutenant Weiner began his military training at the Camp Pickett, Virginia, a U.S Army Medical Replacement Training Center.  A document in Robert Silverman’s files, Special Orders No. 186 (August 7, 1942), stated that 1st Lieutenants Silverman and Weiner were being reassigned from Camp Pickett to the 32nd Station Hospital at Camp Rucker, Alabama with instructions to report there by August 12, 1942.  Apparently this was later changed, since the 32nd Station Hospital’s morning reports indicated he was released from assignment at Camp Pickett and joined the 32nd Station Hospital effective August 19, 1942.  He was appointed assistant chief of dental service on December 5, 1942.

Dr. Robert Silverman (left) and Dr. Irving Weiner (right) in Tlemcen, Algiera in 1943 (Robert Silverman 8 mm Film)

A November 2, 1943 letter from nurse Alice Griffin to her family mentioned that Dr. Weiner was “one of the best liked men in the outfit[.]”  She added, “He did me a big favor about a month ago by taking me to Oran – a four hr drive down & same back– and he & Lt. Needles had to turn around & start right back again– just to do me the favor.”

By December 31, 1943, he had been promoted to captain and was listed on the 32nd Station Hospital roster as Asst Ch of Serv – Dental Surg.  His title is basically the same on the May 1, 1944 roster: Asst Chief of Dental Service.  On August 25, 1944, Captain Weiner was transferred to the 400th Anti-Aircraft Artillery (Automatic Weapons) Battalion, exchanging places with Captain Carl Mason, who joined the 32nd on August 28.

Dr. Weiner standing at far left with legendary performer Al Jolson (center, wearing tie) at the 32nd Station Hospital in Tlemcen, Algeria in 1943.  Dr. Robert Silverman is the tall man to the left of Jolson.  Frances Rubin is the woman in the dark uniform second from the right, with Joan Taaffe at far right.  The other individuals in the photograph are unidentified at this time.  (Courtesy of the Weiner Family)

Prior to his transfer, Captain Weiner managed the 32nd Station Hospital baseball team, the Red Sox.  A team roster printed after the team claimed the Caserta Eastern League title describes him as “Manager until a few weeks ago, he took charge of the Sox when they were green rookies, and developed them into a team unbeatable both in playing and spirit.”  Despite the photo below, it doesn’t appear that bribery played a major role in Captain Weiner’s managerial success.  The roster stated that Chaplain O’Connor “took over when Capt Weiner’s option was recalled by an Ack Ack outfit.”

This photo is captioned “Paying off the umpire!!!” Captain Weiner is the man on the right; the other two men are unidentified. (Courtesy of the Weiner Family)

Captain Weiner was back in the United States on terminal leave by late 1945.  Dr. Weiner married his wife Lenette (1920–2007) in New Haven, Connecticut on December 11, 1945. He was released from active duty in the U.S. Army effective February 14, 1946 and resumed his dental practice in Hartford circa April 1946.  Dr. Weiner and his wife raised two daughters.

Dr. Weiner announced his retirement on January 1, 1990, ending five decades practicing dentistry.  According to his obituary in the Hartford Courant, he “was a lifetime member of the Hartford Dental Society, the Connecticut State Dental Association and the American Dental Association.”  He also “was past president of the Hartford chapter of the Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity and Jewish Children’s Service Organization, and volunteered at the Hartford Dispensary for several years.”  Dr. Weiner died in Hartford, Connecticut, aged 86.

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Last updated December 17, 2020

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