Bernard Feingold, 76, Guard general, museum founder


The collection and preservation of war relics from the 18th century to the Persian Gulf war -- specifically conflicts that engaged the Maryland National Guard -- was the lifelong passion of retired Brig. Gen. Bernard Feingold of the Guard.

General Feingold, who created the Maryland National Guard Museum at Baltimore's 5th Regiment Armory and later was its director and curator, died Thursday of cancer at Sinai Hospital. The Northwest Baltimore resident was 76.

A former soldier with an insatiable curiosity and appreciation for the minutiae as well as the grand sweep of war, General Feingold possessed vast knowledge of military history, tactics, battles and personalities. He was often sought by historians and fellow military officers for his expertise.

"He was a military historian of the first order who helped to perpetuate the memory of the 175th Infantry and the famed 29th Division, and he devoted countless hours to that pursuit," said Lt. Gen. James F. Fretterd, adjutant general of the Maryland National Guard.

Said Philip Sherman, a retired Maryland National Guard brigadier general and Baltimore attorney: "General Feingold was so steeped in military history and rich experiences that it made him an ideal companion and mentor. He really had the best command of the history of the Maryland National Guard."

He was adept at coaxing memories from veterans and persuading them to donate their souvenirs to the museum, which fills five basement rooms of the Maryland National Guard's castlelike offices on North Howard Street. The exhibits are open to the public.

Established in 1981, the museum's artifacts range from Civil War rifles, photos and weapons collected from the bodies of Nazi soldiers to a Jeep that Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower rode in.

"You needed to know him if you wanted to know the 29th Division," said Joseph M. Balkoski, author of "The Maryland National Guard: A History of Maryland's Military Forces 1634-1991," who teaches writing at the University of Baltimore.

"He had a crusty exterior but, once he got to know you, was extremely comical when telling a story. He could also be incredibly generous. When I was writing 'Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy' he let me borrow original maps that were carried during the invasion," he said.

One of Mr. Balkoski's favorite artifacts preserved by General Feingold was a 1940 Willy's Jeep, the Vixen Tor, named for a hill in England.

"Any 29th Division vet who hears the name Vixen Tor will know that it is a part of the 29th's heritage," he said.

Born and raised in Baltimore, General Feingold was a 1940 City College graduate. He began his military career in 1938 with the Citizens Military Training Corps and in 1940 joined the Maryland National Guard. He served in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater of Operations and participated in the Aleutian Islands campaigns.

He later became a company and battery commander, and at the time of its deactivation was executive officer of the 1st Brigade, 29th Infantry Division. He was promoted to colonel in 1973, and his last assignment before he retired in 1978 was director of plans, operations and training for the Maryland Army National Guard.

He remained as a consultant to the adjutant general of Maryland and the Military Department from 1978 to 1983. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1984.

In June, the 5th Regiment Armory Museum and Memorial Hall will be dedicated to General Feingold.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, the former Thelma Hirsch; a son, Dr. Alex Jay Feingold of Binghamton, N.Y.; and two grandchildren.

Pub Date: 2/21/99

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