Sea Foam: Veteran's service doesn't end after the war

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comJune 18, 2012 

Thanks to Goldie Weiss of Sun City Hilton Head for sharing the story of her husband's service to his country long after his World War II duty ended.

"The Next Generation"

By Goldie Weiss

My husband, Murray Weiss, is a World War II veteran. He recently spoke to a fifth-grade class in Kennesaw, Ga., about World War II. My granddaughter was student teaching there. She taught a two-week course on World War II in February and asked her grandfather if he would come and talk to the class.

It was an experience that we will never forget. He made such an impact on the class. He is 90 1/2 years old. He made history come alive for these kids. They asked so many questions and were so enthusiastic. After his presentation, they lined up to ask for his autograph.

A couple of weeks later, we received letters from the class members thanking us for coming. I would like for you to read some of the letters:

  • "Thank you for coming to our school and talking to us about your experience. I found it interesting that you to the world has changed and it has. You remind me of my grandpa. He was in the Vietnam War, but he died in April 2008. You inspired me to reach for my dreams. I really want to be in the Air Force, just like you."

  • "First of all I want to say, thank you for serving our country. I think the things you told us were so interesting. Also, I loved the pictures. I want to thank you for all your hard work to protect our country."

  • "I just wanted to tell you that you didn't just inspire me and teach me, you gave me hope. I have a grandpa who is not doing so well. To see you up there making jokes and having fun gave me hope that he is going to be OK. When you came in, I was expecting a life lesson and to learn, not to give me hope."

  • "I found it interesting that you worked the radio on the airplane in Morse code. Thank you for coming down to share with us about WWII. I can't wait to share what you did to help in WWII. You and many others helped save Jews and other people that were treated badly."

  • There are more letters. We became so emotional when we read them.

    This experience gave my husband confidence and faith that he can still contribute to this world and make an impression on the young.

    'In His Own Words'

    By Murray Weiss

    When the attack on Pearl Harbor was announced on the radio, this is what we heard: "We interrupt this program for a special bulletin. The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, President Roosevelt has just announced." I was stunned.

    Ten months later, in September 1942, I was drafted. My father came with me the day I left for the draft board. We boarded the train at the El station on Metropolitan Avenue and Myrtle Avenue and changed for the subway to the city. When he said goodbye to me, it was the first time I saw tears in his eyes. I was sent to Fort Dix, N.J., for processing. And then they shipped me to Miami Beach -- yes, Miami Beach, Fla.

    I was assigned to the U.S. Army Air Corps. After basic training I was sent to Sioux Falls, S.D., and I started radio-operator training the next day. Our classes consisted of Morse code and radio operator procedure. I used to practice the code when I walked or rode around and saw signs; I would spell out the words in Morse code.

    In April 1943, I was sent to Great Falls, Mont., as part of an airborne crew for the Army Air Corps Transit Command. Our mission was to fly planes -- mostly C-47s and C-54s -- back and forth from U.S. bases to Fairbanks, Alaska, where Russian pilots would take possession of the aircraft. I was a radio operator and part of the crew aboard these flights. In addition we delivered A-20s -- small attack planes -- B-24s and B-17s. We gave these planes to Russia under a kind of lend-lease program so that they could defend themselves against the German war machine.

    The patriotism and unity throughout the country during World War II was very strong. If I went into town in Great Falls, people would stop on the road and pick me up and take me where I was going. They respected the uniform. The one large department store in Great Falls was owned by a Jewish man. He would invite all Jewish troops stationed at the base to join his family at home during Jewish holidays. There was no synagogue; some of the 14 Jewish families that lived there went from house to house to observe the special holidays.

    In Sioux Falls I corresponded with my girlfriend, Ida Schwartz, on a regular basis. Ida wanted to get married and she often expressed that desire in her letters. My mother (and her mother) advised her, "Wait until he gets home." In spite of that, Ida came out to Sioux Falls, and we were married in City Hall. I rented an apartment from a nice Jewish landlord who offered to arrange a Jewish wedding, too, for us. A week later we were married in a Jewish ceremony attended by my friends from camp. I continued my duties on base while living off-base at our apartment.

    I was discharged at Great Falls in August 1945. My rank was still private first class. Ida and I returned to New York, where I ventured into the finance business, dealing with mortgages, loans and investment planning. This was to be a successful, lifelong career for me.

    Ida passed away in 1980. We were married for 39 years. I retired in 1985 and moved to Atlanta. My three daughters got after me and said that I shouldn't be alone; why not think about getting married again? I knew the owner of the restaurant in my building and asked him if he knew a nice Jewish woman. "I know a nice lady," he said, "Here's her phone number." I called and asked her out for dinner. A romance ensued and we were married Jan. 24, 1988.

    Goldie finally retired in 2000, and we moved to Sun City Hilton Head the next year.

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