ELLINWOOD — The year was 1950, and in November of that year, the United States was mired in battle in Korea, fighting the spread of Communism. Two young men from Barton County answered the call to service and paid the highest price.
Edward Cooney, a native of Ellinwood, and Edward Schwartz, a native of Hoisington, looked death in the eye that bitterly cold November, and lost. Captain Thomas Edward Cooney, commanding officer of Company G, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, was killed in action Nov. 27 in the battle zone of the Chosin Reservoir, and remains where he lay near the border of North Korea and China. His family has given DNA for identification.
2nd Lieutenant Edward "Eddie" Jerome Schwartz, a member of Army Company L, 3rd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division was killed in action Nov. 28 in the battle zone of the Chongchon River near the border of North Korea and China. His remains were identified through DNA analysis, and returned to Hoisington for burial on Memorial Day in 2009.
Cooney’s name is missing from the Ellinwood American Legion War Memorial. His name recently came to light as a result of research by David Ames and John Ames of Ellinwood who were searching the internet for veterans from Ellinwood.
"It is important and an honor to us to include Captain Cooney’s name to our monument of war dead," said Frank Koelsch, American Legion adjutant. "It is particularly important to remember those who died in action."
Cooney was born in Ellinwood on July 24, 1917. He was always called Edward because he was named after his father, Thomas Ambrose Cooney, according to his sister, Louise Guyette. His mother was Elizabeth Ward Cooney.
Thomas Ambrose worked at Wolf Flour Mill in Ellinwood. Thomas Ambrose and Elizabeth divorced in 1930, and Edward and his four sisters moved to Great Bend with their mother, said Louise. Elizabeth worked in department stores, and moved to Hutchinson in two years, followed by a move to North Carolina. She remarried a man, also from Ellinwood, Peter Wess.
Thomas Edward joined the Marines in 1940 before the U.S. entered World War II, after having spent one year in college. He served in the Pacific as enlisted until 1943 when he was appointed a 2nd lieutenant.
Edward stayed in the Marines, but in 1950 "planned to leave after his next tour of duty in Korea and then open a drug store with his wife, who was a pharmacist," said Louise. He had three children, Mary, Martha and Tommy.
Cooney was killed by a sniper while checking to ensure none of his men were left behind during withdrawal from Hill 1425 near Yudam-ni in North Korea. There were attempts to recover his body, and two soldiers were wounded attempting to reach him.
"I never will forget your uncle, Captain Cooney," said fellow soldier A.B. Williams. in a letter to Richard Guyette, Cooney’s nephew. "He was the bravest man I ever saw, and I saw a few."
Another soldier, John Johnson said, "With respect to Ed Cooney, he had nothing but friends in Company G. He was extremely highly regarded, and in the eyes of of his troops and subordinate officers, a true leader. I personally had great respect for him."
Cooney received both the bronze and silver star. He had already received two wounds, one to his hip, and one to his forehead before he died, but had refused to be evacuated.
Cooney’s name will be added to the Ellinwood Legion war monument.
Eddie grew up near Hoisington and went to school there. He enlisted in the Korean Conflict with buddies from Hoisington.
For his valor in action, he was awarded the Silver Star. Because of heavy fighting, plus the fact the battle was in North Korea, Eddie’s body was not recovered from the scene until the year 2000. It was known throughout the community that he was killed in action.
Positive identification was not made until January 2009, and Schwartz was buried in Hoisington on Memorial Day in 2009 with military honors.
In April of this year on the 10th anniversary of Hoisington tornado, the Works Progress Administration clocks in Hoisington High School were dedicated to Eddie who died when he was only 21. The clocks had stopped during the F-4 tornado that struck Hoisington in 2001 and were only recently repaired.