What does the name Albert E. Schwab mean to you? It should mean a great deal. Let me explain. Albert E. Schwab was born in Washington, D.C. on July 17th. 1920. His family moved to Tulsa when he was very young. He graduated from high school here in 1937, and attended the University of Tulsa for a year. Not too long after that, he became a U.S. Marine. He died May 7th. 1945. That’s where this story turns. He died saving the lives of a large number of other Marines on Okinawa, during World War two. As a result of what he did the day he was killed, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. He is the only Tulsan to be so honored.
Every year, the Marine Corps League, which just happens to be the Albert E. Schwab detachment, holds a wreath laying ceremony at the base of his bronze statue at Tulsa International Airport. The statue features Private Schwab and his younger sister, JoAnne. The ceremony this year was held Friday, April 27th, and I was asked to be the Master of Ceremony at the gathering, which was an incredible honor for me. I have known and been friends with two other Medal of Honor recipients, Ernest Chiders and Jack Montgomery. Both men are gone now.
At the ceremony Friday three more men wearing the Medal of Honor were in attendance. Major General James Livingston, retired, Command Sergeant Major Bennie Adkin, retired and Sergeant First Class Melvin Morris, retired. During the ceremony, Albert E. Schwab’s Citation was read, there was a prayer of course, a color guard and outside a 21-gun salute. Additionally, I had the chance to introduce and meet three of the surviving members of the Albert Schwab family.
Albert Schwab’s Medal of Honor, from the President details his actions the day he gave his life to save others. Schwab was the operator of a flamethrower.
While his men were pinned down by withering fire, he got up and alone charged the Japanese machine gun emplacement that had already wounded him,… and killed and wounded others. He took out that emplacement when another opened fire. Again he was wounded. He turned his flamethrower toward the second enemy machine gun nest and charged again, taking it out as well, before he died of his wounds.
His actions that day saved many American lives. The citations of the three Medal of Honor recipients in attendance at Friday’s ceremony, also listed incredible acts of bravery and courage.
As the emotional, shadow version of Taps was played by two buglers, I found myself asking the same question, that we’ve heard time and time again: “Where do we get such men.” I’m Sam Jones and that’s my Perspective.