The Naples St. Patrick Foundation, presenters of the annual Naples St. Patrick’s Day Parade, has chosen two World War II veterans as the co-grand marshals for the 2020 Parade. Festivities begin at our annual Flag Raising Ceremony at Crayton Cove on March 14 at 9:30 A.M. followed by the Parade in Old Naples at 11:00 A.M.
Women’s Army Corps veteran Florence Weinstein (95) of Naples, and United States Marine Corps veteran Harold “Pappy” Wagner (94), also of Naples, will represent the “Greatest Generation” in this year’s celebration.
Born in New York City, but a Buckeye by marriage, Florence Weinstein is of a family that was dedicated to service and our Country. Her father was a U.S. Army medic in World War I and participated in the Battle of Verdun. Her husband was a military doctor during W.W. II.
Deeply moved by the constant news of the war abroad, in 1944 at the age of 20 (the minimum age for women enlistees during W.W.II), she enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps. She served the duration of the war as a message clerk at two different Army Signal Corps bases here in the U.S.
Within the United States and overseas, WACs replaced men in such jobs as message center clerks and switchboard operators, releasing the male personnel for other duties. WACs also worked in film libraries and laboratories and performed signal intelligence duties such as cryptography, also known as code breaking. This leaves no doubt as to the importance of our women military personnel in World War II and today.
Corporal Harold “Pappy” Wagner voluntarily enlisted in the United States Marine Corps 75 years ago. A self-described farm boy from Ohio, he took the oath to defend our country at the age of 18 in 1944. Following boot camp he was trained as a communications wireman and was assigned to the 3rd Marine Division Joint Assault Signal Company (JASCO). After additional training in Hawaii he was assigned to the recently liberated Island of Guam. The 3rd Marine Division was in a high state of readiness and was subsequently assigned to the assault on the Japanese Island of Iwo Jima.
After Pappy witnessed 35 days of fierce battle on this eight square mile island of Hell, the American forces achieved victory. There were 26,000 American casualties, including 6,800 dead. Nearly 19,000 Japanese soldiers died on the island.
The 3rd JASCO, as part of the Fifth Amphibious Corps, was awarded the presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism during the seizing of Iwo Jima.
The Naples St. Patrick Foundation is proud to honor Florence and Pappy for their service, and we salute all active and veteran members of our military forces.