Private First Class Albert E. Schwab, USMCR, (1920-1945)
Albert Ernest Schwab was born on 17 July 1920 in Washington D.C. He later relocated with his family to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Graduating from Tulsa High School, he briefly attended Tulsa University and then worked for an oil company. In May 1944, he was inducted into the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve for World War II service. After completing recruit training at San Diego, California, he reported to the Second Training Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California and eventually transferred to the Thirteenth Replacement Draft. In November he departed for combat duty in the Pacific on board USS Wharton . Arriving at Pavuvu Island, Russell Islands, Schwab joined the First Marine Division and was assigned to Headquarters Company, First Battalion, Fifth Marines. That December, Schwab was promoted to Private First Class.
In April 1945, Schwab landed on Okinawa Shima in the Rykuyu Islands and participated in the battle for the island as a flame thrower operator. On 7 May, when his company was pinned down in a valley and suffering heavy casualties, he scaled the cliff, alone and under fire, to the enemy position. He then skillfully used his flame thrower to destroy the hostile emplacement. After his company occupied the ridge, a second enemy machine gun killed and wounded several Marines. Though low on flame thrower fuel, he quickly determined to advance alone against the enemy fire. Schwab destroyed the second gun emplacement but was mortally wounded at the end of his assault. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" on this occasion, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Albert E. Schwab is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
This page features the only image we have concerning Albert E. Schwab.
Photo #: NH 95388|
Private First Class Albert E. Schwab, USMCR
Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 256.
Albert E. Schwab was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry" while serving as a flame thrower operator with Headquarters Company, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division in action against the Japanese at the Battle of Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, Japan on 7 May 1945. When his company was pinned down in a valley and suffering heavy casualties, he scaled the cliff, alone and under fire, to the enemy position. He then skillfully used his flame thrower to destroy the hostile emplacement. After his company occupied the ridge, a second enemy machine gun fired, killing and wounding several Marines. Though low on flame thrower fuel, he quickly determined to advance alone against the enemy fire. Schwab destroyed the second gun emplacement but was mortally wounded during his assault.
U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.
Online Image: 56KB; 580 x 765 pixels
Medal of Honor citation of Private First Class Albert E. Schwab, USMCR
(as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor,
1861-1949, The Navy", page 256):
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a Flame-Thrower Operator in action against enemy Japanese forces on Okinawa Shima in the Rykuyu Islands, 7 May 1945. Quick to take action when his company was pinned down in a valley and suffered resultant heavy casualities under blanketing machine-gun fire emanating from a high ridge to the front, Private First Class Schwab, unable to flank the enemy emplacement because of steep cliffs on either side, advanced up the face of the ridge in bold defiance of the intense barrage and, skillfully directing the fire of his fame-thrower, quickly demolished the hostile gun position, thereby enabling his company to occupy the ridge. Suddenly a second enemy machine gun opened fire, killing and wounding several Marines with its initial bursts. Estimating with split-second decision the tactical difficulties confronting his comrades, Private First Class Schwab elected to continue his one-man assault despite a diminshed supply of fuel for his flame-thrower. Cool and indomitable, he moved forward in the face of a direct concentration of hostile fire, relentlessly closed the enemy position and attacked. Although severely wounded by a final vicious blast from the enemy weapon, Private First Class Schwab had succeeded in destroying two highly strategic Japanese gun positions during a critical stage of the operation and, by his dauntless, single-handed efforts, had materially furthered the advance of his company. His aggressive initiative, outstanding valor and professional skill throughout the bitter conflict sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
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