Paul served as a First Lieutenant & Navigator on B-17 #42-31823, 772nd Bomber Squadron, 463rd Bomber Group, Heavy, U.S. Army Air Force during World War II.
He was normally assigned to the 341st Bomber Squadron, 97th Bomber Group, Heavy, however he either was assigned or volunteered for this mission.
He resided in Missouri prior to the war.
Paul was declared "Missing In Action" when his B-17, while on a mission, collided with B-17 #42-38143 and crashed into the Adriatic Sea off Italy during the war.
He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.
Service # O-672983
( Bio by: Russell S. "Russ" Pickett )
Airmen who perished on B-17 #42-31823:
Amodeo, Victor J ~ Sgt, Waist Gunner, New York
Anderson, Ernest H ~ Capt, Bombardier, Washington
Burges, George D ~ Major, Pilot, South Carolina
Cash, Foster L ~ Capt, Co-Pilot, Texas
Franz, Andrew J ~ S/Sgt, Top Turret Gunner, Illinois
Kerschner, Elwood J ~ Sgt, Tail Gunner, Pennsylvania
King, Joseph F ~ Sgt, Ball Turret Gunner, Pennsylvania
Lapacek, Adrian G ~ Sgt, Waist Gunner, California
Molan, Robert R ~ S/Sgt, Radio Operator, Pennsylvania
Schwartz, Paul L R ~ 1st Lt, Navigator, Missouri
For airmen who perished on B-17 #42-38143 see:
Chambers, Keith M ~ 2nd Lt, Pilot, New York
( Crew Report by: Russell S. "Russ" Pickett )
Lieutenant Schwartz was the inspiration for the character "Schwartz" in the beloved Jean Shepherd film, "A Christmas Story."
[ Courtesy: Steve Glazer - 08-09-2015]
Paul LeRoy Schwartz -- born on July 16, 1921, in Chicago to Paul Larsen Schwartz and Hilda H. Kriewald -- was raised in Hammond at 1299 Colorado Avenue and later at 6810 Arizona Avenue. Soon after graduating from Hammond High School in 1938 (a year ahead of Shep), Schwartz held several jobs -- including helper at a piano company, as well as mail boy and steelworker at the steel mill -- to support completion of his first year of college. On January 29, 1942, Schwartz enlisted at Fort Benjamin Harrison, outside Indianapolis, as an aviation cadet in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Successfully completing his training, he was commissioned as a navigator and assigned to the 772nd Bomb Squadron of the 463rd Bombardment Group (H) in Europe. In early 1944, First Lieutenant Schwartz was flying strategic bombing missions in a B-17G Flying Fortress attached to the 341st Bomb Squadron of the 97th Bombardment Group (H) out of Amendola Airfield, Italy, as part of the 5th Wing of the 15th Air Force. On the morning of March 19, 1944, Schwartz and nine other crew members had taken off in their B-17 from Amendola as part of a 230-strong bomber armada headed towards the Austrian Alps for Klagenfurt air depot, where the Germans produced Messerschmitt fighter aircraft and other war materiel. At 10:35 in the morning -- while flying in clear skies at an altitude of 3500 feet, about three miles off the coast of Manfredonia in eastern Italy -- Schwartz's aircraft was struck by another B-17 to his right in formation. That plane immediately broke into two pieces, caught fire, and crashed into the Adriatic Sea. Schwartz's B-17 banked sharply to the left, spun out of control, and crashed into the sea and burned. There were no survivors of the mid-air collision; however, one parachute was seen to open at about 500 feet. Only four bodies were ever recovered, but not that of Schwartz. Although the aircraft-casualty reports were classified at the time, Schwartz's mother, then living in St. Louis, Missouri, was subsequently notified of her son's death, with very few details provided to the family. Shep was incorrect in writing that "Schwartz had been shot down over Italy." (In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, at page 263.) Schwartz's family was also unaware, until just this year (2015), of the circumstances of his death. The details were apparently not officially declassified until some decades after the war. The name of First Lieutenant Paul L. R. Schwartz is inscribed on the marble Tablets of the Missing located in the chapel of the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy, not far from Anzio Beach.
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