WWII Vet Honored With Combat Photos on Display in Terry, Montana
I got a great message from Norm Clarke. The Terry, Montana native got his start in journalism right here in Montana with the Lee Newspapers. He eventually worked for the Rocky Mountain News before starting his very popular column in Las Vegas. He became known as "The Gossip King of Las Vegas."
Norm has never forgotten his Terry, Montana roots. As you can see below, he is sharing a great tribute to a World War II veteran from Terry- combat photographer John Schwarz. Schwarz spent his final days in the Eastern Montana Veterans Home in Glendive. Thanks to a collaborative effort by a group of current and former Terry residents, Schwarz will soon be honored at the American Legion in Terry. "Honored that we could honor John Schwarz for his courageous service." -Norm Clarke
Here's the story: WWII Bomber Photo Collection Honors Terry Man
By NORM CLARKE
When John Schwarz fell in love with photography at college, he couldn’t have imagined it would turn into one of the world’s most dangerous professions.
The longtime Terry resident had received a bachelor of arts degree in applied arts at what is now Montana State University, where he focused on his camera skills.
Then World War II came along and changed everyone’s plans.
He was inducted into the Army, which was under the umbrella of the Eighth Air Force. He quickly rose in rank. Soon he was commander of the photo lab of the 100th Bomber Group, a unit of the Eighth, based at Thorpe Abbots, England, 80 miles north of London.
Schwarz took with him as much 16mm movie film as he could afford, said his son, Dave.
His dad flew many missions as an aerial combat photographer.
“He told me he tried to pick missions that were safer, but he said sometimes they didn’t turn out that way.”
After the war NBC purchased all of Schwarz’ footage of the bomber raids into Germany and Nazi-held territory.
John Schwarz was among the fortunate in the 100th, known as the “Bloody One Hundredth” for its heavy losses. When the war ended in 1945, the Eighth Air Force, which included the 100th bomber group among 70-some bases in England, suffered more casualties (26,000) in WWII than the U.S. Marine Corps, often the first to take the battle to the enemy.
In 306 missions, the 100th lost 229 aircraft and had 785 men killed in action or missing.
John Schwarz, along with a handful of other American servicemen, split the cost to have a fishing boat deliver them back to the states, 3,400 miles across the Atlantic. Half of them got sea sickness. Yup, Schwarz got that on film too.
Dave Schwarz, a 1965 Terry High graduate and editor of the Terry Tribune in the early 2000’s, remembers a night when he was about 10 years old. “Before my dad and mother (Shirley) went square dancing, he would set up the movie projector and I would watch his film all night.”
After the war, John bought a farm near Terry and worked for the Buffalo Rapids Irrigation District. He sold the farm in 1970.
With photography still in his blood, he showed up for all of Terry’s home football games for years with his favorite movie camera.
“The same one he used on all of his missions,” said Dave Schwarz.
John Schwarz died August 15th, 2009, at the Eastern Montana Veterans Home in Glendive. He was 93.
More than 50 of John Schwarz’s photographs from his time with the 100th will be displayed on the walls of the Terry Legion Club. The official unveiling will be July 29 (with a reception beginning at 5 p.m.) and 30th (11 a.m) during the Terry Yippee Days celebration.
The timing couldn’t be better. Hollywood royalty Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are among the producers filming their latest World War II miniseries “Masters of the Air,” based on Donald Miller’s book “Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys who fought the Was Against Nazi Germany.” The miniseries will focus on the 100th. END
Thanks to Norm for sharing his story with us.
The above video, and the photos below were shared with us by Jeff Scheid, Norm's brother. These are some of the photos that WW2 combat photographer John Schwarz took and will be on display at the gallery at the American Legion Club in Terry. Jeff tells me, "Our goal in this project is to honor someone from Terry that helped in the war effort and to create more tourism for the community."