John Swick

'I feel like I'm a different person'


At 89, John Swick still fits into his original Army dress uniform issued to him in 1943, when he weighed about 155 pounds.

He won't tell war stories from his time in combat in Europe with the 94th Division, 302nd infantry regiment. His memories from Patton's 3rd Army are just too painful.

"There were thousands and thousands before me. I'm not a bragger. I don't do that."

He can't recall the first time he pulled on the crisp wool pants, buttoned up the jacket, made sure everything was just so.

But he puts on his uniform several times a year for parades and presentations, for veterans events.

It makes him feel different. It instills in him a profound pride. It turns him into a better man.

Swick was in the infantry, the circles on his collar tell you.

The gold pin above his medals, showing a rifle against a wreath of oak leaves, is his combat infantry badge.

He was a staff sergeant, you see by his shoulder patch: three stripes up and one down.

A bronze star sits among combat medals from the range of battles he was in. Battles he still won't describe.

He'll only say he was drafted as a replacement in 1943 when his daughter was 2. Discharged in 1946. His young wife - they're still married 70 years later - wrote him tons of letters.

He saw France and Germany, Austria and what used to be Czechoslovakia.

"I'm just fortunate enough I got through World War II and I got home," he said. "Praise the Lord, the rest of it is history."