The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients
Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom
Private First Class Albert E. Schwab
United States Marine Corps Reserve
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty as a Flame Thrower Operator serving with Headquarters Company, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Okinawa Shima in the Ryukyu Island, 7 May 1945. Quick to take action when his company was pinned down in a valley and suffering resultant heavy casualties 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 flame thrower, quickly demolished the hostile gun position, thereby enabling his company to occupy the ridge. Suddenly a second Japanese machine-gun opened fire, killing or wounding several Marines with its initial burst. Estimating with split-second decision the tactical difficulties confronting his comrades, Private First Class Schwab elected to continue his one-man assault despite a diminished supply of fuel for his flame thrower. Cool and indomitable, he moved forward in the face of the 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, materially furthered the advance of his company. His aggressive initiative, outstanding valor and professional skill throughout the bitter conflict sustained and enhanced the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Harry S. Truman
President of the United States
Private First Class Albert Schwab was just five days short of having one year in the Marine Corps when he fearlessly walked into a blazing Japanese machine gun on Okinawa. He destroyed two guns that day and subsequently earned the highest military honor, the Medal of Honor.
Albert Earnest Schwab was born 17 July 1920 in Washington, D.C. The family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, early in his life. He attended the local schools, graduating from Tulsa High School in 1937. After one semester at Tulsa University, the young athlete went to work for an oil company.
Inducted into the Marine Corps on 12 May 1944, he was sent to boot camp in San Diego. His boot leave of ten days was the only time his family was to see him in the Marine uniform. After his furlough, the former oil worker went to the 2d Training Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California. In November, Pvt Schwab was transferred to the 13th Replacement Draft and on the 12th of that month departed for overseas duty aboard the USS Wharton. He joined the 1st Marine Division at Pavuvu Island, in the Russells, and was assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. On 24 December, Pvt Schwab was promoted to private first class and in February, he, along with the rest of the division, embarked for maneuvers which eventually led to an enemy landing on the shores of Okinawa on Easter Sunday, 1 April 1945.
Private First Class Schwab was a flame thrower operator with Headquarters Company. When that company was pinned down in a valley on 7 May by the withering fire of a machine gun coming from a ridge high to the company's front, he scaled the cliff in the face of the devastating fire and attacked the gun with his flame thrower. Quickly demolishing the position and its crew, his company was able to occupy the ridge. Suddenly, a second machine gun opened fire inflicting more casualties on the unit. Although he had not had time to replenish his supply of fuel, PFC Schwab unhesitatingly advanced on the second gun and succeeded in eliminating it before its final burst caught him in the left hip, inflicting fatal wounds.
The Medal of Honor was presented to PFC Schwab's three-year-old son at Boulder Park in Tulsa on Memorial Day 1946 by Rear Admiral J.J. Clark, USN, Commander of the Naval Air Basic Training Command, Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Texas.
Private First Class Schwab's body was returned to the United States and buried with full military honors at Memorial Park, Tulsa, 27 February 1949. On 3 October 1959, a Marine camp constructed on Okinawa was named Camp Schwab in honor of the heroic Marine.
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