Stanley P. Shankman

NO. 17940  •  5 Jun 1927– 19 Jan 1952

Died in Sandspit, British Columbia
Interred in Mt. Judah Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY

Stanley Paul Shankman, born in Brooklyn, NY, loved his hometown and all the great activities available to a growing boy in the metropolitan area. Stan and his brother, Herb, enjoyed a secure and happy childhood, adored by loving parents and encouraged in all their endeavors.

During his youth, Stan developed a love for baseball, with the Brooklyn Dodgers as his favorite team. He once concluded that a particular Dodger pitcher was the best in baseball, although, on the day the pitcher was suddenly traded, Stan commented, "He never could pitch, anyway." Stan’s loyalty was to the team.

Stan was an excellent student. He took academics in stride and graduated from Brooklyn Midwood High School in 1943 at age 16. As a high school student during WWII, Stan followed the war closely and deeply admired our armed forces. Those global national challenges throughout Stan’s formative years influenced his decision to join the military.

Following graduation from high school, Stan attended New York University for two years. During that time, his parents enjoyed the company of friends who had a son, Edwin Marks '49, at West Point. Those proud parents and Edwin had a positive impact upon Stan, and it cemented his desire to attend West Point.

In June 1945 Stan joined the Coast Guard with the intent of pursuing his ambition to become a cadet. Four months later, he transferred to the Army and quickly earned admission to the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School at Amherst, MA. He attended the school from November 1945 until March 1946 and worked hard during this time to obtain an appointment from the 11th Congressional District of New York.

In March 1946, Stan took his physical and written entrance examinations for West Point. His successful completion of those challenging tests was a source of great joy for him. Stan reported to the Academy on 1 Jul 1946, a proud member of the Class of '50.

Stan adapted well to the rigor and discipline of Academy life and never seemed unduly stressed. He was particularly good at languages and studied German. He often studied it out loud, thereby exposing his unwilling roommates to the language. Years later, one of his roommates reported that, while stationed in Europe, he could easily regale German listeners with German poems without having the slightest idea what he was saying.

Stan was an excellent handball player. He preferred to keep this fact to himself, allowing his opponents to find out about his skills on the courts. He was a gracious winner and an accomplished post game kibitzer. He was a fun competitor.

His classmates also remember Stan as fastidious with his personal hygiene. After shaving at the hallway sink each morning, he always applied a generous amount of Yardley Shave Lotion, nearly asphyxiating fellow cadets in the vicinity. He was kidded about it, but it never deterred him.

Stan was a considerate and pleasant roommate. He enjoyed presenting a gruff exterior, but those who knew him found him to be soft of heart and delightfully witty. During Plebe year, when a roommate unexpectedly entered the hospital, Stan visited him within the hour and frequently thereafter. He brought the usual supplies and reading material. Occasionally, he would smuggle something delectable from the mess hall, a plebe triumph of no small significance.

Upon graduation on 6 Jun 1950, Stan was commissioned in the Signal Corps. Twelve days after graduation, Stan married his sweetheart, Naomi Mirkin, in a beautiful ceremony at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New York City.

Stan’s and Naomi's first assignment was to the 51st Signal Operations Battalion at Ft. Meade, MD, and the couple enjoyed their brief time together there. In August 1950, the battalion departed for Korea, via Japan, to support I Corps, joining them at Taegu inside the Pusan Perimeter in September 1950. Stan was assigned as the communications liaison officer with Korean, British, Canadian, and U.S. combat units during some of the fiercest fighting of the war. He performed his duties with courage and was dedicated to his men.

One of his classmates recalled an incident involving Stan in Korea. One of Stan’s soldiers was running around with a carbine, threatening others. Stan just walked up to the soldier and calmly started talking to him. The agitated soldier finally handed the carbine to him. The classmate reported, "It was unbelievably brave of Stan."

In January 1952, Stan’s father suffered a heart attack. While returning to the States from Korea on emergency leave, his DC 4 aircraft touched down at Sandspit Airport, British Columbia. The pilot saw the field was too short, and immediately took off for a new approach. He apparently circled too soon and the aircraft plunged into the frigid surf 400 yards off the end of the runway. Tragically, Stan perished in that crash.

Stan was with us for a very brief time. We remember him as a good man, gentle and compassionate. We also remember the "indomitable spirit" mentioned in his 50 Howitzer narrative. The military career he earnestly sought lasted only 18 months. He and his lovely wife, Naomi, were able to spend just two months together before being separated by the winds of war.

1LT Stanley Paul Shankman served honorably in a country he had never known, to protect the freedom of strangers he had never met. He did his duty. Yet the length of his life is not as important as its quality. Stan’s star burned briefly but brilliantly, and it lit the fires of all those who were fortunate enough to know him and to love him. The memory of him survives. Well done, Stan. Be thou at peace.

-- His roommates