Herbert R. Schwartz
Tail gunner, French Crew
The diaries of S/Sgt. Schwartz are among the best to come out of the war. Posted here are his diaries from the time he left for Europe to the end of his tour of duty. KMHS will post his training diary as well in the near future. Enjoy this riveting account of a sergeant who dearly wished he could have been an officer, learned to enjoy the job he was given as tail gunner, was thrilled to be in the air, and loved his crew from whom illness would separate him as they left for Europe. Heart-breaking, healing and thrilling, this account is one not to miss.
After the war, Herb never married and sold insurance. He became a friend of actress Terry Moore, who was married to mogul Howard Hughes for a short time. Terry, during a visit to a Christmas party at Herb's house, read his WWII diary and came up with the idea of making a movie entitled "Sergeant Schwartz" and talked to Jimmy Stewart about this. Stewart, who served with the 445th at he beginning of his tour, said that he would be glad to talk to Herb about the movie. Herb flew out to California and Stewart invited him to their house for an evening. During dinner, Stewart said that he had lost too many friends while commanding the 703rd Squadron at Tibenham. "I'm not as excited about that time as you are," said Stewart. "It gets to me."He also said that, with his hearing problem that had developed over the years, he would do a voice over but would not want to appear in the movie.
Stewart later phoned John Travolta, who owned one of the few flying B-24s at the time. Travolta was on location in Canada, but called Schwartz to talk about the Kassel Mission. But then years went by, and nothing happened.
Then, in 2008, Travolta phoned Schwartz and said that he would be happy to play the part of Sgt. Schwartz if a movie were made. Years went by. Then, in 2008, Travolta's secretary called Schwartz and invited him to bring material out to the airport, where Travolta would be attending a grand opening.
Schwartz showed up and said afterwards that it was like meeting royalty. He was granted five minutes and said that he handed over to Travolta "everything I had" on the Kassel Mission. When he received the package, Travolta said, "I can hardly wait to see what's inside this.
The month after meeting Travolta, Schwartz received a call from Terry Moore who was having dinner at a posh club. She said she was telling the man seated next to her about Herb’s story, and he wanted to talk with Herb. She handed the phone to General P.X. Kelley (ret.), 28th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. Kelley was also in charge of the entire World War II Memorial project in Washington, D.C. and was advisor to two presidents.
General Kelley, very interested, spoke to Herb again the next day, inviting Schwartz to D.C. and said he would like to personally give Schwartz a tour of the Memorial. Said Herb in a later conversation with KMHS President, Linda Alice Dewey, “What’s a sergeant like me doing talking to a four-star general?”
KMHS thinks he was doing a lot. At Kelley’s request, Herb sent a copy of his war diary for Kelley to read. When he was finished reading about the Kassel Mission, General Kelley called, saying, “Why have I never heard of this mission?”
Good question. Many wonder why word of this event would not be heard about by people like Kelley.
The latter invited Schwartz to Washington and showed him the WWII Memorial. The general read Herb's entire diary and was scheduled to visit Schwartz in Kansas City in March of 2009, but Herb died in December, 2008.