Walter F. Schwartz

by Jack Keegan


Conrad "Cooney" Schwartz operated a Tavern Down Neck on Ferry Street for many a long year. He had a great and loyal clientele much impressed with his offerings of rare and exotic foods for it's time. Always available were pheasant, rabbit, deer and other game animals which Cooney housed in his back yard zoo or refrigerator.

Few people understand the tragic event that befell him during World War Two. He had a son Howard Schwartz a few years younger than me who hung around with the gang that met in the candy store next to Engine Sixteen Firehouse on Ferry Street. We all performed silly teenager pranks, nothing really serious mostly all in fun nothing destructive.

When Howard reached eligible age he enlisted in the United States Navy. After finishing Boot Camp he was assigned to the new aircraft carrier USS Franklin CV-13, a ship of the Essex Class affectionately known to her sailors as "Big Ben". Finishing shakedown she transited the Panama Canal and steamed to Pearl Harbor. There the carrier joined several Task Forces, she saw action at Eniwetok, Iwo Jima and the Philippines. Off Layte on October she was hit by a Kamikaze and sailed to Puget Sound Ship yard for repairs.

Returning to the Western Pacific she was on a mission off Honshu, the main Japanese island when on 14 March 1945 she was hit by two bombs which penetrated the flight deck and started huge fires, resulting in the loss of 725 killed and 265 wounded. She was able to stay afloat and began the long journey back to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for repairs.

Unfortunately Howard Schwartz was not able to make that voyage back home, he was one of the many Blue Jackets who made "The Supreme Sacrifice" that day in March 1945. That's one of the reasons why "Cooney" helped sponsor the Howard Schwartz-American Legion Post Number 408.


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