RM3 Sidney Weinstein US Coast Guard (1942-1946)
RM3 Sidney Weinstein
US Coast Guard
View Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/bio/Herb.Weinstein
WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?
I was in high school at the time of Pearl Harbor. I had never heard of Pearl Harbor and didn’t know where it was. That was true for many of my friends but we sure found out quickly. We all became Gung Ho and were ready to enlist, however we had a couple of months left. to graduate so I opted to finish school.
Many of my friend did enlist, going into the US Army Air Corps to become pilots. That was my desire also, but my father said “NO”. He was in the first World War, captured by the Germans and gassed. He was shot and he lost 3 fingers on his left hand. When I said “US Army” he said “Not MY son”.
My friend said that we could enlist in the US Coast Guard but I said I wanted to fly. He said “I will take care of you and you will fly”. We went for our physicals. I was accepted but he was rejected for athletes foot that could have contaminated the entire group. I met him in New Guinea and said “Look what coast you gave me.” We never went to flight training as I thought I would. Instead I became a Radioman on a ship.
WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?
My service path is as follows: Enlisted as an Apprentice Seaman, boot camp, the assorted
guard duty in North Philadelphia and then Cape May, NJ Radio School in Atlantic City NJ. USCGDO New York for assignment finally to the US Army FS-271 as a Radioman.DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS? IF SO, COULD YOU DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?
We took the ship from Wheeler Shipyard in NY through the Panama Canal to the west coast for guns and then to Honolulu, HI and the Pacific Ocean areas south of the equator to New Guinea and then shuttled in the area supplying the Army and Marine units fighting the Japs in this God forsaken island.
Assigned to the USS Aquarius (AKA-16) for further duty in the radio room of this Attack Cargo Ship. It was an amphibious type with 8 LCM’s and 16 LCVP’s plus and array of anti-aircraft guns with a compliment of plus or minus 500 men when assorted troops of the Marine Corps or the US Army. After the defeat of the Japanese, we were assigned to Admiral Kinkaid’s 7th Fleet to trapsport Chaing Kai Sheks Chinese troops to North China to fight Mao Tse Tungs communist Chinese troops. We made numerous trips to deliver those troops and finally back to Okinawa to pick up US Marines and take them to Seattle Washington. We finally left the west coast for New York, through the Panama Canal up the east coast to the gold old USA and finally discharged in very late April of 1946.
WHICH, OF THE VESSELS OR DUTY STATIONS YOU WERE ASSIGNED TO, DO YOU HAVE THE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY?
To tell you the truth, I did enjoy my duty in the Coast Guard wherever I was stationed. I have no regrets except that I wasn’t allowed to go to pilot training as I had anticipated. I would say however, that my greatest sea duty station was aboard the USS Aquarius AKA-16 for the exceptional tours, the initial combat in areas unknown to me. To the friendships that lingered far beyond the service. To the reunions we did have for many years . And believe it or not, to tell the people aboard this ship that she was built at Kearny Shipyards in New Jersey, just a few miles from my house. Some of them eve thought I helped build the ship. That’s how gullible some of them were.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?
I think my most memorable experience was assigned to the US Coast Guard detachment in Camp LeJuene, NC. I was privileged to go to Elizabeth City NC to the Coast Guard air station there and allowed to take an anti-submarine warfare flight in a Martin PBM patrol plane over the Atlantic Ocean. That cemented my desire to become a pilot. (I was able to do that later in life, eventually flying for the Civil Air Patrol, an arm of the US Air Force and becoming a Command Pilot with 15 years of service.)
OF THE MEDALS, AWARDS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICES YOU RECEIVED, WHAT IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?I was never awarded any medals of valor other than the Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal and the Distinguished Service Medal from the state of New Jersey. I would say the Good Conduct Medal and the NJ medal mean the most because as I think back, if I were allowed to become a B-17, B-24 or a fighter pilot I could have been awarded all types of medals but I could have been shot down or killed as so many of my high school friends were. Therefore I am glad to have survived WWII and did the duty that I was assigned to do without too many physical problems. The ones that I did incur are relatively minor compared to some who paid with their lives. They are the Heroes of this country of ours and should never be forgotten.
WHICH INDIVIDUAL PERSON FROM YOUR SERVICE STANDS OUT AS THE ONE WHO HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
I would say that in looking back my two best buddies would be Charles Nickerson and Gus Reibe on my first ship (FS271). We were a very close crew since there were only 18 men assigned including officers.
Charley was a Quartermaster, Gus was a Machinist’s Mate and I was a Radioman but we became like brothers while we were together on the ship. They were good shipmates and they were also my closest friends.
I have lost track of them over the years but I still remember them.
CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE THAT WAS FUNNY AT THE TIME AND STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?
One of the funniest incidents I would say was when we stopped the FS271 when we reached the equator and we had a King Neptune ceremony (Shellback). We had the ceremony that included getting our heads shaved. I was the Royal Barber with a set of hand shears and I shaved everyone bald, including the Skipper. Then we had a concoction of a drink made with everything we had in the galley from ketchup to vinegar and everything in between. Then of course we had to crown a King Neptune for the ceremony but I forgot who that was.
All in all, it was a fun time and we had many a laugh from the whole crew. After that it was back to war time.
WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER THE SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT JOB?
Upon my discharge I returned home to a waiting job with my father and my uncle in a wholesale dry cleaning business that expanded after the war with returning vets going into business and whatever. We did build a drive thru retail dry cleaners later on and it was fairly large with about 15 full time employees. That lasted for about 25 years and then it was sold and I went back to work for Uncle Sam again as a US Post office route carrier. I was a mailman.
I then retired from that in 1992 and have been a man of leisure since, doing everything I wanted to do. My greatest joy however was flying my airplane with my partner and wife. Going wherever we desired from Montreal to the Bahama, New Jersey to Chicago and everything in between.
WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
I am a life member and past commander for 25 yeas of my DAV chapter. I am a life member of and past commander of my VFW post. Past Senior Vice Commander of of the American Legion post my father was Commander of. I am a 50 plus member of the Elks Lodge number 2004 in Springfield-Hillside, New Jersey.
Now for the most loyal association that I do belong to now I will tell you that is the Coast Guard Combat Veterans Association I am Past Trustee and a Life Member. This is my pet organization today.
HOW HAS MILITARY SERVICE INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND CAREER?
The military taught me many things, primarily how to grow up, think for myself and to be self sufficient in my life. It also gave me a goal to learn how to fly and I did that to my fullest.
No regrets to being in the military and to serve with the United States Coast Guard.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR THOSE THAT ARE STILL SERVING?
To advise all people who are today serving in the military would be of no consequence for each and every one is a person unto him or herself and must make their own way. Advice can be given but it has no true meaning in that it is not the individuals thoughts or doings and can be sidestepped as irrelevant. To be able to let each individual make their own thoughts and minds to function for themselves is the asset that will fulfill a hope and desire that can be the goal of a person. Do your best to do your duty, and fulfill your desires.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU MAINTAIN A BOND WITH YOUR SERVICE AND THOSE YOU SERVED WITH?
I had not heard of Togetherweserved until Diane Short gave me a call asking me if I was interested to recall my WW2 service story. I look forward to connecting with other Coasties on this website.