Norbert Swierz, 92

Published 10:07pm Thursday, July 26, 2012

Norbert Swierz, 92
Born: May 6, 1920
Died: July 21, 2012

Norbert Frank Swierz, 92, died after a short illness in Palm Harbor, Fla., on July 21, 2012, surrounded by his family.

He was born in Chicago on May 6, 1920, to Rose (Waitas) and Andrew Swierz, joining the U.S. Army Air Corps in November 1941.

He traveled to England and was a B-17 gunner, flying bombing raids over Germany with the 91st Bomb Group, being shot down twice and spending two years as a prisoner of war at Stalag 17.

After three escapes and recaptures, he was eventually liberated by Gen. Patton’s Army after an 18-day forced march through Germany.

Within two weeks of returning home, he married his sweetheart, Muriel B. Pease, to whom he was married 67 years.

During his lengthy military career, Mr. Swierz earned 27 awards and citations, including five Purple Hearts, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the French Legion of Honor Chevalier.

He retired from military service in 1974, after having traveled and lived extensively throughout the world.

He and his wife also owned and operated several hotels around Dowagiac, and eventually purchased the El Rey motel and restaurant on the Houghton Lake northwest shore, which they operated for many years.

Mr. Swierz loved spending time with his family and friends, enjoyed painting with oils, gardening, working on his house and sports.

He wrote a book of his wartime memoirs, “If I Told You Once,” which was published and accepted into the Library of Congress in 2010. At his death, he was in the process of writing a children’s book.

He leaves behind his wife, Muriel; sons, Gregory M. Swierz (Joanne), Jeffery A. Swierz (Chantal); daughter, April E. Ray (Rich); and daughter-in-law, Rena Swierz; 11 grandchildren: Kari Goodlin, Frank Swierz, III, Greg Swierz, Kris Swierz, Jessica Groncki, Gina Johnson, Jill Rockholt, Joseph Ray, Joshua Ray, Anna Ray and Alex  Swierz; and five great-grandchildren, Kate, Jacob, Ava, Jackson and Vera Rose.

He was predeceased by his beloved son, Norbert Frank Swierz II, in 2009, as well as his brother, Al, and sister, Bernice.

A memorial service for his many friends and family took place in Palm Harbor at noon Thursday, July 26.

Another memorial will be scheduled at a later date for his friends and family in Michigan. His burial will take place at Arlington National Cemetery.

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