Edward William Szaniawski, was a member of the class of 1935 at Scarsdale High School. He was the president of his class president of Student Government Association and played basketball, football, and baseball for SHS. He graduated form the University of Maine with a degree in forestry. In 1940, when the when the US Army Air Corps denied him entry to the pilot program because of his poor eyesight, the self-proclaimed "stubborn Pole" underwent four eye operations so that he could qualify. He finally made it and became a Aviation Cadet on June 30, 1941. He shot down his first Fw 190 in a P-47 on February 21, 1944. . He commanded three squadrons, amassing over 60 mission in Europe. In Early may he was a Lieutenant Colonel and the Commanding Officer of the 357th Squadron. His nickname was "Jonesy" and he flew P-47D's and then the P-51B, which is what he was flying when he was shot down by flak and was reported as a POW on May 19, 1944. He was captured, escaped, recaptured, and eventually escaped again. During his capture he was interrogated by the famous Luftwaffe (German Air Force) interrogator Hanns Scharff. Afterwards he was sent into captivity, where he was made the athletic director of Stalag Luft III (German Air Force administered POW Camp), commanded by Oberst Friedrich von Lindeiner. This is the same camp that was featured in the true story book and film "The Great Escape." Once there, Szaniawski led his fellow American prisoners in leveling and clearing dense woods to create an ice hockey rink, a baseball diamond, and a basketball court. They did this solely with the use of tin cans and their bare hands. He was promoted to full colonel a mere three years after entering the Air Force, and during his service he was highly decorated. Amongst his many awards were a Silver Star medal, Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Soldiers Medal, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, and the Purple Heart plus many many more. He retired from the Air Force on December 30, 1968 as a full Colonel. After the death of his first wife Ginny, he married Janet Mead, formerly of Scarsdale. Friends since the third grade, the two were reunited at the 50th High School reunion and were married nine months later in January 1986. He was preceded in death by his daughter Chrissy and his brother Ted, and was survived by his wife Janet, daughter Genny Lou, and sister Harriet. Died at the age of 84.
Sponsored by Ancestry