Information on veteran named Harry J. Schmitt

(the following article is information the Post received via email)

Subject: I hope to contact men who served in my uncle;s 98th FIS

Hello, I write to you as someone whose uncle died while serving in the Air Force in 1958. I am an experienced historian who is writing a book on my uncle and hope communicate by phone, email or via correspondence with men who served in my uncle’s 98th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron. I have been advised by a retired Air Force officer I interviewed that the only chance I have of interviewing men who served in the squadron would be to contact American Legion Posts located near Air Force Bases where the squadron was stationed. I was told that Air Force officers often retire near where they last served. Since the 98th was stationed at Suffolk County Air Force Base I have emailed you in the hope that you may be able to tell me if any members of your post served in the 98th and would be willing to communicate with me.

Please allow me to tell you a little about my uncle, Harry J. Schmitt. He graduated from the Queens College, New York Air Force ROTC program and received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant on June 20, 1956.

By August 31, 1956 Harry had reported to Lackland Air Force Base and was a member of the 3700th Pre-Flight Training Group. After several weeks of basic training he reported to Harlingen Air Force Base and became a member of the 3610th Observer Training Wing (later Navigator Training Wing). At Harlingen Harry earned his Primary Basic Navigator diploma on September 20, 1957.

By April 4, 1958 Harry had been promoted to 1st Lieutenant. On that day he won a Navigator Training Award and completed his coursework in Navigator Radar Intercept at James Connally Air Force Base while a member of the 3565th Training Squadron. It was immediately after this that Harry received assignment to the 98th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Dover Air Force Base.

He died on July 17/18, 1958 after ejecting from a Northrop F-89J Scorpion about twenty-two miles east of Cape May, New Jersey. According to the Air Force, he must have hit the water so hard his neck was instantly broken. Despite a massive search, all that was ever found of him was his own rubber dingy that had never been inflated. At the time he and the pilot of his jet were in the act of intercepting an unidentified plane that later turned out to be a Navy P-2V patrol plane flying where it should not have been. The F-89J jet itself sank to the bottom of the ocean but the pilot, 1st Lt. Gordon Reed Orme, was picked up at sea and survived.

I was actually born and raised on Long Island. My parents till live there and I visit several times a year.

Thank you for your time and any help or advice you can give.

Sincerely,

Patrick Bowmaster
10 Erick Road, #51
Mansfield, MA 02048
508-337-6409
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