Raymond Swedzinski Oral History
Raymond (Swede) Swedzinski was born in Taunton, Minnesota on March 6, 1921. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corp following the World War II draft and later completed his training as a B-24 co-pilot. Swedzinski was assigned to the 15th Air Force stationed in Spinazzola, Italy where he completed 37 missions between April and July 1944. During his last mission on July 19, 1944, Swedzinski and his crew were shot down and spent 42 days behind enemy lines with the French resistance. Raymond returned to the United States as a heavily decorated veteran. In July 1945, he married his wife Irene in which they raised four children together. They lived in Taunton and farmed. Swedzinski remained an active member of his community until his death on July 26, 2000. He is buried at the Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Cemetery in Taunton.
Swedzinski received the following awards for his military service: Distinguished Flying Cross, Victory WWII, Air Medal w/ Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, European Theater Operations, and the French Cour de Gurre.
In an interview conducted on February 3, 1990, Raymond (Swede) Swedzinski discussed with his life prior to the World War II draft and his fascination for aircrafts. As the draft approached Swedzinski knew his draft number was approaching, so he joined the Air Force Cadets to learn to fly. Swedzinski recalled his initial failure of the eye exam, resulting in becoming an aircraft mechanic. He was not satisfied with performing maintenance and took the eye exam a second time and passed. Swedzinski detailed his experiences during training, earning his wings, his assignment, and flight course to Italy, as well as his crew in which he was assigned co-pilot. In Italy, Swedinski’s crew was assigned to the 460th and the 762nd Bomb Squadron. Here he recalled missions to bomb strategic German factories and other important Axis strongholds. Swedzinski recalled in much detail about the day his crew was shot down over France in July 1944 and the events that followed. He and his crew spent 42 days in hiding with the French resistance. They were finally liberated after the Allied forces pushed the Germans out of France from the south. The crew made their way back to their base where they were sent back to the United States. After some rest, Swedzinski spent the rest of World War II flying gunners and became an instructor. At the end of the interview, Swedzinski discussed the Vietnam War and the draft evaders.
Interview by David Overy
St. Cloud State University, "Raymond Swedzinski Oral History" (1990). World War II Veterans. 33.