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Vice President’s Report, January/February 2022 -   -  

A Veteran’s Story

I believe the following story needs to be told so people can understand that a veteran’s homecoming should be something special.

In late November 2021 I participated in a funeral as a member of a multi-organizational Honor Guard of just about every military and veterans unit within fifty miles of our city in Ohio. An active-duty Army Honor Guard from Cleveland also was in attendance.

The veteran in question was Pvt. Emmet Schwartz. A local boy, he was 24 when he was killed in action on December 24, 1944, while serving with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment in the 8th Infantry Division near Brandenburg, Germany. His unidentified remains were buried in France in 1951.

Forensic specialists only recently identified Pvt. Schwartz through a DNA match. The remains of this veteran were met in Cleveland at the airport by family members and staff of the Linn-Hert-Geib Funeral Home here in New Philadelphia, Ohio.

Passengers on the flight stayed inside and alongside the plane out of respect, while the casket was removed from the plane and into a waiting vehicle. His motorcade immediately departed Cleveland for New Philadelphia. A recorded video of his escorted arrival was posted on Facebook by the funeral home later that night.

The public turned out by the hundreds, if not thousands, along the 70-mile route. Overpasses along the freeway were filled to meet this veteran on his final journey after 77 years. The roads in New Philadelphia were packed with onlookers as the procession moved toward the town square and then to the funeral home in the city of his birth.

He would lie in state until his service on Sunday. Many veterans groups, including local VVA Chapter 857, along with city, state, county, and national leaders, attended the funeral service. Before the service, Pvt. Schwartz lay in state in the courthouse rotunda for two hours allowing the public to pay tribute. I have lived in New Philadelphia for 25 years. I had never seen this happen for anyone.

A public funeral service and private burial were held on Sunday, November 20. A huge crowd was in attendance at the United Methodist Church; many more stood in pouring rain outside the church. “Today we have a solemn but very life-affirming task,” said the pastor, Rev. Harley Wheeler. “The love of his family has been honored by the recovery of his body.”

I was told it was always a dream of his son James to bring the body of his father back to his hometown for burial. James Schwartz died two years before that dream was fulfilled. He had worked tirelessly to see that his father’s body was found and brought home.

Since Pvt. Schwartz was put to rest, memorials in his name have sprung up. The local VFW post, for example, named its new club annex in his honor. The annex serves as a food bank for veterans and their families.

This event was profoundly moving. I have been a part of many veterans’ funerals, but this one was special. A warrior came home to be given the honor and respect that he deserved for serving his country during war. It was an honor to be part of it.


On November 11, I, along with your fellow officers, was present in Washington to represent Vietnam Veterans of America during the city’s official Veterans Day ceremonies. National President Jack McManus sat on the dais during the ceremonies at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. President McManus and National Treasurer Linda Schwartz then presented the VVA Wreath at the Wall.

While VVA’s President and Treasurer were at the Wall, I had the honor of representing the organization at the White House. I was able to speak with President Biden for about five minutes. The President mentioned that it would be difficult for him to forget our organization. When his son Beau Biden returned from Iraq in 2009 VVA members were at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to greet him and other troops. I told the President that our Delaware chapters have been doing this for years. He seemed truly appreciative of that fact.

I also attended ceremonies at the Military Women Veterans Memorial Hall at Arlington National Cemetery. Linda Schwartz, former National Vice President Marsha Four, National Homeless Veterans Committee Chair Sandy Miller, and I presented the VVA Commendation Medal to retired Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught. She was extremely grateful. It was an honor to part of this ceremony.




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Geoffrey Clifford Mark F. Erickson Chuck Forsman