Harold P. Schwerdt of Laurel, formerly of Southold, died Jan. 9, 2019 at the Kanas Center for Hospice Care in Quiogue, a week before his 99th birthday.

He was born in Queens on Jan. 15, 1920, the son of John and Mary (Stoessel) Schwerdt.

Harold P. Schwerdt in 2014 at the Griswold-Terry-Glover American Legion Post 803 in Southold. SoutholdLOCAL file photo.

A decorated World War II veteran, Schwerdt served the Army Air Forces as a gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress. He was taken prisoner by the Germans when his plane was shot down over Cassel, Germany. He was a POW for two years, detained in the infamous Stalag-17B prisoner of war camp in Krems, Austria. He was liberated on May 5, 1945, while on a 200-mile forced march from Krems. He lost a finger during the war and received a Purple Heart. He rose the the rank of technical sergeant in the Army Air Forces.

Schwerdt was the oldest living WWII former prisoner of war in New York State.

A lifetime member of the American Legion he twice served as commander of the Griswold Terry Post in Southold.

He married Loretta Reilly on June 1, 1943. The couple made their home in Southold, where they lived for 52 years. For the past six years, he has been a resident of Laurel.

Schwerdt worked for more than 40 years as a supervisor for N.Y. Telephone.

He enjoyed bowling, golf and singing in the choir at St. Patrick’s Church. He was in charge of bingo at the American Legion post in Southold.

Predeceased by his wife of more than 64 years in December 2007 and by his daughter Patricia Oster, he is survived by his daughter, Marianne Sawicki of Laurel, his grandchildren, Ashley Blados, Nicholas Oster and Kaitlin Oster.

The family will receive visitors on Sunday, Jan. 14 from 1 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. at Coster-Heppner Funeral Home in Cutchogue. A funeral Mass will be offered on Monday, Jan. 14 at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Mattituck. After Mass on Monday, a military service will be held at the Southold American Legion with a 21-gun salute. Interment will follow at Calverton National Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to East End Hospice, 481 Westhampton-Riverhead Road, Westhampton NY 11978.

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.