Maj. General William J. Weinstein,
Marine Corps Hero in South
Pacific, World War II
Seymour “Sy” Brody
Major General William Joseph Weinstein, Marine Corps was a hero in the South Pacific fighting against the Japanese military during World War II.
Weinstein was a captain when he was the commanding officer of rifle Company B, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines, 4th Marine Division, in the battles of Roi, one of the two principal islands in Kwajalein’s northern chain. They also fought the Japanese in Namur, Saipan and Tinian.
As the troopships were steaming across the Pacific to go to Roi, each ship had a Protestant and Catholic chaplain and about 1,400 officers and men. There was only one Jewish chaplain for the entire 4th Division of about 18,000 officers and men. When the Jewish Marines approached Weinstein to have services, he arranged for this to happen. He approached the captain of his ship and received permission to hold Jewish services, which was announced over the loud speaker. 46 Jewish Marines came to the Friday night service.
When they attacked Saipan, his outfit lost many Marines. Weinstein himself was wounded. One of his moments of bravery was when they approached a large cave, Weinstein shouted in Japanese for the men to surrender. A Japanese officer came out, but couldn’t speak English. An American officer, who could speak Japanese, was called to speak to him. Later, 34 starving Japanese soldiers surrendered.
One Japanese soldier was incensed about the soldiers surrendering, took a machine gun and opened fire on him. Weinstein and two other Americans were exposed to this fire and they managed to kill him.
Weinstein’s last major battle was on Iwo Jima, where his outfit suffered heavy casualties.
Weinstein was released from active duty in December, 1945, with the rank of captain. He joined the reserve and became a major in October 1948; Lieutenant Colonel, 1953; Colonel in 1962 and Brigadier General, 1967. He was promoted to Major General in 1971.
Major General William J. Weinstein’s medals and decorations include
● Legion of Merit with one gold star
● Bronze Star Medal, with a “V”
● Purple Heart
● Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze star
● American Campaign Medal
● The Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four bronze stars
● World War II Victory Medal
● National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star
● The Marine Corps Reserve Ribbon
● Armed Forces Reserve Medal.
Weinstein was a Detroit attorney, a director of the Detroit Bar Association,
Chairman of the Negligence Section, Michigan State Bar (1961-1962), member of the Standard Jury Instructions Commission, Michigan State Bar, 1963. Vice-Chairman of Court Administration Committee, Michigan State Bar, 1966. He was also an author and lecturer
Weinstein was born on December 9, 1917, in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Norther High School, 1934. He received his LLB degree from Wayne State University, 1940.
He began his Marine Corps Reserve career, in October 1941 and was appointed a second lieutenant in 1942 and he was promoted to first lieutenant in 1942.
Weinstein was married to Rose Weinstein and the late Evelyn Weinstein. They had four children, ten grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He died on June 25, 2002.
For additional information, contact
Special Collections and Archives
S.E. Wimberly Library
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Last updated 03 July 2008