Major General Robert Bernstein:
Commander of the Walter Reed
Medical Center and Commissioner
of Health, Texas
by Seymour “Sy” Brody
Major General Robert (Bob) Bernstein was the commander of the Walter Reed Medical Center and Commissioner of Health of the State of Texas.
He was born on February 20, 1920, in New York City. His parents, Rose and Morris Bernstein raised him in Yonkers, New York, and he graduated high school in 1937. Bernstein went to Vanderbilt University and received a B.S. degree in 1942. Under the Army Specialized Training Program, he went to the Louisville School of Medicine and he received his medical degree in 1946. Bernstein was a Private First Class in the Army as part of this training program and wore his uniform on the campus. When he graduated, he was commissioned a First Lieutenant in the Army Medical Corps.
On July 4, 1947, Bernstein was called to active duty and flown to Japan for occupation duty. When he arrived, Bernstein volunteered for the Airborne. He went through the 11th Airborne Division Jump School and he was assigned as a Medical Officer and as Regimental Surgeon of the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment. In July 1948, he was promoted to Captain and returned to the United States to become a Medical Officer, of the 11th Airborne Division, Camp Campbell, Kentucky.
Bernstein was transferred to Korea in September 1950 as a Battalion Surgeon of the 2nd Battalion, 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. His unit made only two combat parachute jumps and he was in both. On one of the jumps, they were working their way up a narrow valley when a sniper shot him in his butt. The surgeon tried to take the bullet out of his butt, but he couldn’t.
Bernstein returned to the United States by September 1954 and he completed his residency at the Walter Meade Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. He became certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and elected to the American College of Physicians.
He graduated from the Command and General Staff College, in 1960. He then was assigned to the U.S. Army in Europe, and then in successive assignments in For Monroe, VA, Panama Canal, and the Pentagon. He was promoted to Brigadier General and was assigned the Command Surgeon in Viet Nam.
He was promoted to Major General and named the Commander of the Walter Reed Hospital, on July1, 1973. He held this position for fifteen years and retired on February 18, 1978
In March 1978, Bernstein moved to Austin, Texas. He entered the service of the State of Texas and in a few years he was appointed Commissioner of Health, Texas Department of Health, which he held for eleven years.
In later years, he organized many Austin area groups of veterans. He became a member of Austin Post 757, of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States, the oldest veterans’ organization in the country.
Major General Robert Bernstein died on July 23, 2007 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.
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