I was born in New York City (Manhattan) on August 4, 1925, and was raised some 20 plus miles out on Long Island in Woodmere.
I started playing piano at age 5 or 6. I was pretty good too – such that I had been planning to go to Julliard or some music school. WWII changed all that! I switched to engineering when I thought that the ASTP would (1) give me an education and (2) probably then not have me carrying an M-1. I was not intending to be a hero in manner, shape or form. When the guys would say, “If it’s got your number on it, it will find you.” I, being the supreme paranoid, would answer: “I am concerned about the one that says, ‘to whom it may concern.'”
So things started as planned – ASTP went along fine, but I got the measles after week 7 or 8, and was in the hospital at Fort Benning for one week. After a two week furlough, I started Basic all over again at week 4. I was eventually transferred to the 87th at Jackson.
My job was “Team Chief” of General Culin’s escort. We rode in an M-20. The 20 mm canon mount had been removed and a 50 cal machine-gun put in its stead. This was an armored six-wheel monster that weighed almost eight tons, but ran like a rabbit, with speeds up to 55 mph. Cadre was 2 radio-ops, a machine-gunner (who was also Culin’s personal bodyguard, I think), and a driver! My responsibility was to make sure that everyone was there, the vehicle was ready to run (I knew then and now nothing about motors, cars, etc.) and be the one to whom Culin, or his Aide, gave instructions. I would then report back directly to Culin if possible, though his Aide was usually more easily reached! He would say, “Frank – get this message through — go to the top to that hill if necessary – but BE BACK HERE at such-and-such time!” I did know something about radios as I had been a “ham”, having received my license at age 13 and 1/2). This is what got me out of carrying an M-1. Incidentally, being Army Service Forces, I did NOT earn combat-pay! I had a ticky-tack wound in the Bulge, and was bandaged up, but never got to an official “Aid Station. Thus, I never got the Purple Heart. I limped around for a few days and missed out on those five points!
General Patton visited us a couple of times, and once I was chewed out for taking a picture of his car – as he drove by – instead of standing at attention and saluting! I sure was a mean kid!
I came back to the States on the USS Marine Fox, a C-4 Cargo Ship, coincidentally made right here in San Pedro about five miles from my home. We sailed on July 4, 1945, and came into Newport News, Virginia, landing on Friday the 13th. So much for superstition. The rest of the Division came into NYC.
I left the 87th at Benning in September 1945, having volunteered (shudder-shudder) for a post at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, supposedly as a radio-op in their Signal Corps Headquarters! Instead, I was sent to “Finance School” and declared “essential”. I did not get the “ruptured duck” until Jan. 31, 1946. And that was accomplished (believe it or not) with the aid of the Post Chaplain at Devens.
My mother kept every letter I ever wrote home during the WWII experience. I was not aware she had done this until we were disposing of things after her death. As with most correspondence from the combat areas, because of censorship, most of them are “typical dribble of an 18 year-old,” saying little more then “I received a letter from Aunt so-in-so. The weather is whatever”, etc. An interesting sidelight: she also kept cutouts from the NY Times. Although we could only write “Somewhere in Europe” each day, the Times published a map of how the front was moving, often naming outfits (including the 87th) with arrows designating exactly where we were! Go figure that one out!
After my discharge, I attended Yale, and was in same class as the future 41st President of the United States: George Bush! After graduating with a BA in Psychology, I did a year of graduate work at Western Reserve, and then a year of research in the Department of Anatomy, after which I entered Medical School there and graduated in 1954. Then came five years of post-grad training (Internship, Surgery, then 3 years of Urology). I opened the Department of Urology at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, and stayed with Kaiser for almost 30 years. I was elected by my fellow partners to their Board of Directors three times (9 years). Eventually, I became “burnt out” and planned early retirement at age 60!
But what would I do with my time? My son had recently graduated from Harvard Law, so we joked about forming a firm: Frank and Father! So off I went to Law School at night, carrying a beeper, which several of the Professors did not appreciate. After earning my J.D. (Doctor of Jurisprudence), I retired from the operating-table. Now, I’m also am retired from the courtroom, being one of perhaps 9 or 10 Board Certified Urologists who will admit they have had a legal education!
I am standing in front of the C&R (command and reconnaissance) car when we were first down in the Saar – believe the town was Saar Union. It was bitter cold. I look like a 14 year old Boy Scout! Probably thought like one. The next 5-6 months would change all that! The C&R car was an upright high-profile vehicle with canvas sides for doors with some kind of plastic for windows which actually could be sort-of rolled-up rather formally opening a door. It was outfitted with a SCR (Signal Corps Radio) 393 which fed a long whip antenna. As a high-profile vehicle, it surely must have been a relatively easy target. Fortunately, we were not that often up close enough to be shot at.
Standing in a doorway in Lissendorf, Germany – February 1945. Notice that I am much skinnier already. Actually got down to about 120 – 125 pounds by VE-Day! We did not get that much to eat. That applied even to those with General Culin! We actually had air-drops for a couple of days.
Here I am in 1999 providing the musical entertainment at a meeting
of the Beverly Hills Bar Association – a luncheon given to raise
funds for one of their charities. My aunt is married to a
Judge of Superior Court and is a bigwig in charity work.