William 'Bill' Bernstein was born in Pasaic, New Jersey on January 27, 1923. He moved to San Francisco with his family when he was twelve years old. He graduated from the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point in 1944 and served as a Lieutenant, JG in the US Navy.
He volunteered to work with Aliya Bet and became Chief Mate of the famous ship Exodus 1947. On July 18, 1947 the British attacked the ship to prevent its refugee passengers from reaching Palestine. Bill died of a skull fracture after being clubbed to death in the wheelbouse. He is buried in Martys Row in the Haifa cemetery.