|Sidney Heistein (left) with cousin Charles Bernstein||Memorial Day 2005|
It has never been clear to me why I am so compelled to perpetuate the memory of this one life sacrificed in World War II. One amongst over four hundred thousand American Military who perished. One amongst six million Jews forever silenced. One amongst twenty million human beings deprived of existence in the defining historical event of the Twentieth Century. Perhaps it is because my father, himself a WWII veteran, lived in awe of his first cousin Sidney. Dad's education allowed him to spend the war years in the Air Corps, running a teletype office at Campbell AAF in Kentucky and later on Biak Island in the Netherlands East Indies. I'm sure that more than a small tinge of guilt compelled him to frequently remind me of his cousin's sacrifice. More important to me though is that even a cursory reading of "Final Solution" documentation reveals that had the other side won World War II, no one of my faith, i.e. no one deemed racially inferior, would have survived. I owe my life to cousin Sidney I. Heistein and I am committed that our family never forget.
Sidney I. Heistein was, according to relatives, a simple, pensive man who craved the education deprived him due to the financial hardships of the Great Depression. He had a deep respect for life and would step aside to avoid killing an insect. A draft notice in October, 1942 took him from his home in Mount Freedom, NJ and placed him in Company B, First Battalion, Fifteenth Infantry Regiment, Third Infantry Division. The 3rd Division fought their way across North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and Germany. Company B was a rifle company - out front. Sidney Heistein was out front from Licata, Sicily to Hill 446, Roccaromana, Italy where an artillery barrage ended his life on 18 October 1943.
In April, 2013, after 10 years of research, I toured the U.S. Battlefields of Sicily and Italy with the most competent WWII tour guide in the business, Tony Cisneros. Much of the time however, my mind was not with the Tony and the 7 other wonderful folks on the tour. I was back in 1943, trying to grasp events that still give nightmares to the few remaining survivors. During the regular tour, Tony arranged a special day for me. On 1 May 2013, we followed the events of 13-18 October 1943, the Last Battle of Sidney Heistein from the Volturno River to Hill 446. What follows is the photo record of my visit.
NOTE: With apologies to mobile users, these pages are designed to be viewed on a full-size screen. Click on the thumbnails for the hi-res image in a separate window.
See my original Sidney Heistein web site for my research paper and other background. See this Army publication for a full military history of the Volturno action.