Interest in the World War II accomplishments of the 42nd on the rise
Story by: Major Ben Tupper - 42nd Infantry Divison Public Affairs Officer
Dated: Mon, Oct 17, 2011
JERSEY CITY, NJ--Pennsylvania high school teacher Paul Johnson talks with World War II members of the Rainbow Division Veterans Association.
OCEAN CITY, N.J.--Veterans of the 42nd Infantry Division met Oct. 12, at the Port-O-Call seaside resort for a three-day reunion to share stories of their service in World War II, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
The Rainbow Division Memorial Veterans Foundation (RDVMF) has been holding these reunions across the country since the end of World War I. While all the World War I veterans have since passed on, and the ranks of the World War II veterans continue to thin, the reunions continue with an influx of veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as civilians who are showing increasing interest in the division’s contributions to victory during World War II.
Paul Johnson, a high school teacher from Pennsylvania attending his first RDVMF reunion, was excited and honored to meet the Rainbow veterans. “I am a history teacher, and in my classroom we talk a lot about World War II. I even took some of my students on a trip to the Dachau Concentration Camp,” he said. The 42nd Infantry Division liberated the infamous death camp on April 29, 1945. Johnson added that he even took time off from teaching so he could attend the RDVMF event at the Port-O-Call and get as many autographs as he could from the World War II veterans in attendance.
Ceil Hall, also a first time RDVMF reunion attendee, came for a more personal reason. Her father, Capt. Alvin Weinstein, was the surgeon of the 2nd Battalion, 222nd Infantry Regiment during World War II. While she always knew that he served in that medical capacity, when her father was alive he didn’t share much more beyond that. “He never told us any of the stories of what he did,” she said.
After her father’s death, a series of events accidentally led her to a man who was a concentration camp survivor who her father had treated and saved. Driven by the emotion of this story, Hall began her quest for more information about her father, which led her to the RDVMF reunion.
At the reunion, she met other World War II veterans who served with her father and knew him personally. Hall, an author of two books, now knows many more stories of how her father’s medical treatment saved lives throughout the war, and she hopes to compile all these stories into a book honoring her father.
Individuals like Johnson and Hall aren’t the only ones showing interest. Organizations are also reaching out to Rainbow Veterans. Stuart Hihn, who served in the Headquarters Company of the 222nd Infantry Regiment, got an unexpected call from the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. “I don’t know how they got my name and number, but they sent someone all the way from Louisiana to Maryland to interview me,” Hihn said.
Hihn went on to urge all of his fellow veterans of the 42nd Division to tell their stories before they too “pass over the rainbow”. He, along with his comrades from World War II urged all currently serving members of the 42nd Infantry Division to get involved with the RDVMF , so that it can carry on the proud tradition of the division after all the World War II vets are gone.
More information on the RDVMF can be found at www.rainbowvets.org