Henry Emil Bernstein was born on December 4, 1904, in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of the late Emil Bernstein and Mrs. (Clare Walter) Bernstein. He attended Duval High School in Jacksonville, before receiving his appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, from his native state in 1922. As a Midshipman he played varsity football for four years, was a member of the company wrestling and lacrosse teams, and participated in class track. Graduate and commissioned Ensign on June 3, 1926, he attained the rank of Captain to date from March 10, 1945.
Following graduation from the Academy in 1926, he served until July 1927 in USS Milwaukee, during which time he had two months’ duty with the landing force ashore in Nicaragua. Returning to the United States in July 1927 he had instruction at the Torpedo School, Newport, Rhode Island. Upon completion of the course in December 1927 he had fitting out duty in USS Lexington and upon her commissioning on December 14, 1927, reported aboard. He served in that carrier until May 1928, when he transferred to USS Arkansas for duty until September 1930.
Detached from the Arkansas he was assigned to USS Hannibal engaged in hydrographic survey off of Cuba, Panama and Trinidad, until June 1932, when he was ordered to return to the United States. He reported for instruction in general line and communication engineering at the Postgraduate School, Annapolis, Maryland, completing the course in engineering at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he received his Master of Science degree in June 1935. He again had duty aboard the Lexington, between July 1935 and June 1937, after which he transferred to USS Minneapolis.
In June 1938, he reported as an Instructor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Naval Academy and remained in that assignment until June 1940, when he joined USS California. He was serving as Duty Commander aboard that battleship on the morning of December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii. The California was strafed, torpedoed and bombed, remaining afloat for three days after the attack, and then sank in the soft mud. On December 15, 1941, he reported for duty on the staff of the Commander, battleships, USS Maryland, flagship.
Returning to the United States in February 1942, he was assigned fitting out duty in USS South Dakota at the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey. Upon her commissioning on March 20, 1942, he reported aboard. Detached from that battleship he was assigned to the Bureau of Ships, Navy Department, Washington, D.C., serving in various capacities in that Bureau—as Head of the Radar Design Section, Head of Electronics Installation and Maintenance, and finally as Deputy for Electronics.
“For exceptionally meritorious conduct…as Head of the Radar Design Section, Radar Division, Bureau of Ships, from May 1942 to February 1945…” he was awarded the Legion of Merit. The citation further states in part: “…(He) was responsible for the design and development of all radar and associated equipment used by the Fleet and Naval Establishments…” He also received a Commendatory Letter from the Chief of Bureau of Ships, for services as “…Head of the Installation and Maintenance Branch, Electronics Division, from February 1945 to November 1946…”
On September 15, 1948, he reported for duty as Naval Advisor on the staff of the Commanding Officer of the Fort Monmouth (New Jersey) Area. He was also assigned additional duty as Director of the Armed Service Electro Standards Agency, Fort Monmouth.
In addition to the Legion of Merit, Captain Bernstein has the Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal; the American Defense Service Medal; the American Campaign Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal.
26 April 1950.