Biography: Stanley Bernstein was born on March 8, 1923, in New York City, New York. He was the son of Morris Bernstein and Helen Grossman and attended grammar school, P.S. 189, in Manhattan and then went on to attend George Washington High School through the 11th grade. He was a good athlete and played football while there.
His father had come from Russia and his mother from Hungary. They had immigrated to the United States, making their home in New York. Stanley had a brother, Barnett and a sister Bernice.
Stanley had joined the New York National Guard and was serving in an artillery unit, which we believe was the 187th FA. His enlistment record indicates he was working as a sales clerk, prior to the war.
Service Time: Stanley entered the service on February 3, 1941, at New York City, which was the same day that the 187th FA was inducted into federalized service. The 187th would become part of the 71st Anti-tank battalion, which would ultimately become the 771st Tank Destroyer battalion. Stanley was assigned to C Company of the unit, which trained at a number of facilities within the U.S., including Camp Hood, Texas, in early 1943, before returning to Fort Ethan Allen and then A.P. Hill Military Reservation in Virginia.
The unit then moved to Fort Dix, New Jersey, for final preparations before shipping overseas. They transferred to Camp Shanks, New York, for staging and departed the U.S. on October 21, 1943, arriving at Liverpool, England on November 2, 1943. The 771st was chosen to train other TD personnel in the ETO Troop Replacement system. Company A would move out and act as an advanced unit to ship to France in late August 1944. The rest of the battalion would ship out on September 15th and join them on the mainland, equipped with M10 tank destroyers. They entered combat with the 102nd Infantry Division against the Siegfried Line defenses along the Würm River on November 3rd.
It was on November 20th (actually identified as the 19th in the After Action Reports), that C Company was positioned near the towns of Apweiler and Gereonsweiler, Germany. They were under attack by enemy tanks and Stanley’s tank destroyer was hit and disabled. The men were forced to move to cover and Cpl. Stanley Bernstein climbed up to a position behind the .50 Cal Machine Gun to cover their escape. An enemy tank fired again and scored a direct hit on their destroyer, instantly killing Stanley. Stanley was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and received the Purple Heart in recognition of his ultimate sacrifice.
Stanley was initially buried in a temporary grave in Germany but when his family had the opportunity, he was brought home and buried in the Beth El Cemetery in Paramus, New Jersey. There is also a memorial plaque honoring Stanley, placed by the people of France. Stanley’s cousin, Margie Yosher, wrote a poem celebrating the victory in Europe and honoring her cousin and his sacrifice.
I want to thank Stanley’s nephew Michael Weitman for providing the information and photos for this tribute.