This is a part of our “Letters from War” series documenting the World War II letters of Irvin Schwartz of Pine Grove, PA. The letters were all published in the West Schuylkill Press-Herald between 1943 and 1945.
Like millions of other American men and women in the autumn of 1945, Irvin Schwartz returned to his home and tried to figure out what life looked like after achieving victory in the Second World War.
The 21-year-old Schwartz came home to Pine Grove, Pennsylvania as a hardened combat veteran who landed on D-Day, fought through France, Belgium, and Germany and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry at the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. He received his honorable discharge from the US Army in October 1945 at Fort Indiantown Gap and traveled home just a few short miles to his native Schuylkill County. He hadn’t seen his friends and family or his home since being deployed to England in 1943.
Schwartz left his civilian job at the West Schuylkill Press-Herald in 1943 and to the role of a newspaperman he returned. The young man’s love of scholastic sports kept his connections with home alive throughout World War II, and he quickly went back to writing about his passion when he back from war.
The newspaper business would soon become his life’s work and passion.
And through the newspapers Schwartz loved and cherished, we can follow the trajectory of this World War II hero’s life after the war.
West Schuylkill Press-Herald, May 2, 1947
The marriage of Miss Dorothy Wertz of Pine Grove R.D. and Irvin R. Schwartz, well-known sports writer also of Pine Grove R.D., will take place this evening in St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, Ravine.
A reception after the ceremony will be held at the White Church pavilion.
West Schuylkill Press-Herald, May 9, 1947
St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, Ravine, was the scene of a pretty wedding last Friday evening when Miss Dorothy E. Wertz of Pine Grove R.D. 2 became the bride of Irvin R. Schwartz, also of Pine Grove R.D. 2.
The double ring ceremony was performed by candlelight at 7:30 by the Rev. M.M. Kipps before the altar that was beautifully decorated with white dogwood blossoms and evergreens. Mrs. Harvey Lengle played the traditional wedding marches and other selections for the ceremony. Ira Schucker, soloist sang “Because” and “I Love You Truly.”
The bride wore a gown of white marquisette with a fingertip veil of illusion which fell from a crown of seed pearls. She carried a white Bible with a n orchid marker, from which fell a shower of sweet peas.
Her sister, Miss Ada Wertz, was the maid of honor and she wore a pink marquisette gown with matching headdress and carried a bouquet of pink and white snapdragons.
Lester Moyer of Cressona, an uncle of the bridegroom, was the best man.
Following the ceremony a reception for 150 guests was held at the pavilion of St. Jacob’s Church… after which the young couple left on their wedding trip to Washington, D.C., and Virginia. They will make their home in Pine Grove. For traveling the bride wore a tan suit with brown accessories and a corsage of white orchids.
The bride is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Wertz. A graduate of Tremont High School, she has been employed in the Pine Grove factory of the Fox-Knapp Manufacturing Company.
Mr. Schwartz is the son of Mr. and Mrs. John A. Schwartz He is a graduate of Pine Grove High School, having served with the U.S. Army in England, France, and Germany. He is employed at the Lebanon plant of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation.
West Schuylkill Press-Herald, November 28, 1947
West Schuylkill Press-Herald, December 12, 1947
West Schuylkill Press-Herald, January 30, 1948
West Schuylkill Press-Herald, September 28, 1948 (Lion’s Club Meeting)
West Schuylkill Press-Herald, April 1, 1949
West Schuylkill Press-Herald, September 2, 1949
Lebanon Daily News, February 1, 1951
Lebanon Daily News, July 19, 1951
Lebanon Daily News, September 11, 1952
West Schuylkill Press-Herald, March 20, 1959
Lebanon Daily News, June 6, 1964
D-Day Memories Are Vividly Recounted by Local Area Veterans
…Among those who hit the beaches at Normandy 20 years ago was Irvin Schwartz, 39, a Pine Grove resident who served with the First Infantry Division.
Schwartz was on duty with the Anti-Tank Company of the 26th Regiment. He was discharged at Indiantown Gap as a technical sergeant in October 1945…
Schwartz, who earned the Distinguished Service Cross – the nation’s second highest award – is a proofreader with the Lebanon News Publishing Company. He also holds the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and a number of citations as souvenirs of the war.
“These decorations really mean nothing to me, he said. “I would happily give every one of them if just one of the many guys who gave their all along the way could be brought back to life.”
While news articles in the United States gave accounts of glorious victories on the new front, Schwartz said, the D-Day landing was “indescribable.”
He said his unit encountered a German army unit undergoing maneuvers in the Normany Beach area. “That unit, I’m sure, got the hottest baptism of warfare any training unit ever had,” he said.
After the landing, Schwartz said, “the going was rough all through the Normandy farmlands, but it was made worse by the endless lines of hedgerows which hindered our advances.”
He recalled the early graves which later became American cemeteries in France. “There was a trench about the length of two or three football fields scraped out by a bulldozer and our boys were laid side by side the full length of the trench.”
West Schuylkill Press-Herald, August 1965
Lebanon Daily News, September 30, 1972
Lebanon Daily News, November 22, 1975
Lebanon Daily News, May 8, 1987
Pottsville Republican-Herald, September 16, 1992
The Most Noble Oak
We watched another Great Oak fall; Irvin Schwartz was laid to rest.
He may have been the tallest of all…to me, the noblest.
He never paraded his intelligence – no great cause, no philosophy.
But by any mortal measurement, he excelled in decency.
Each town – each generation – should have its ‘Blackie” Schwartz.
The All-American, the eternal, Boy; loving people, events and sports.
He was driven to be a reporter, even in his high school days.
Each week he filled the “Herald” with statistics, scores and praise.
We worked together in “42,” in the old Fox factory.
I saw him in righteous combat before he joined the infantry.
He was a twice wounded veteran, which I never heard him mention,
And worked all his life, for his 1st Division’s national convention.
He never lost his boyish smile – his shy wave and salutation;
And his spoken touch of gentle “Dutch” enhanced his conversation.
He remembered old, local athletes, and forgotten local games.
He praised long departed decent folks – their works, deeds and names.
I NEVER knew a nicer man – what greater honor can there be?!
And I’ve yet to meet a single soul who doesn’t agree with me.
He met the challenge of Kipling’s “If” as well as any mortal could,
Yet he lived in Foss’ “House By the Road” – gentle and kind and good.
By EARL SHOLLENBERGER, September 1992
Featured Image: Irvin Schwartz and Dorothy Wertz (Schwartz Family)