FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, NJ — A World War II veteran who was just recently honored for his service has died, according to his obituary.
Charles Schwarz, who lived in Manalapan for more than 50 years, died Monday at Wedgwood Gardens Care Center in Freehold Township. He was 93, according to his obituary on the Freeman Funeral Home website.
Schwarz, who was an Army Air Corps tail gunner, had just recently been honored for his service with a Quilt of Valor by the Quilts of Valor Foundation, Rebecca’s Reel Quilters and the South Shore Quilters at a brief ceremony attended by numerous residents at Wedgwood, the rehabilitation and long-term care center on Route 9.
“This is the best neighborhood there is,” Schwarz told Muriel J. Smith, who provided a report and photos from the event, which was attended by dozens of residents.
Prior to the birth of the US Air Force, the Army Air Corps ruled the skies during the second World War and the tail gunner position was one of the most vital positions in the aircraft. The tail gunner protected the rear of an aircraft, usually in a kneeling position on a bicycle-type seat in the second tightest compartment underneath the plane. The tail area was drafty and frostbite was a constant issue.
As the only rear-facing crewmember, he was responsible for passing along information about things behind the aircraft, such as enemy fighters or the condition of the flying formation, to the rest of the crew. Schwarz enlisted in the Air Corps shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack and served throughout the war in that position.
The quilt presentation was made possible through Lori Papirnik of Freehold, who had been friends with Schwarz for a number of years. Papirnik said she first met the former soldier when he lived in Manalapan and she was an employee at the Public Works Department, where he frequently came to voice his opinion on a number of municipal services, Smith wrote.