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Former 1st Lieutenant Inducted into Berks County Military Hall of Fame

by Manor at Market Square

Former 1st Lieutenant Inducted into Berks County Military Hall of Fame

READING, Pa. — At 101-years-old, Manor at Market Square resident Herbert Schneider can add hall of fame to his list of accolades.

The former first lieutenant was inducted into the Berks County Military Hall of Fame on Saturday, Nov. 9, during the annual Berks County Veterans Appreciation Dinner and Dance held in the gymnasium at Wilson High School in West Lawn.

“I still can’t believe it,” he paused, “This is such an honor.”

Schneider, a World War II and Korean War veteran, was drafted into the Army Air Force in 1941. He served as an ordnance officer assigned to the 351st bomb group and 509 Squadron.

He was responsible for loading bombs and ammunition onto B-17 aircraft that were on missions headed for Germany and France. Also, in his outfit was the famous leading actor Clark Gable.

“He flew missions. And I got to meet him a few times,” noted Schneider.

During World War II, he was sent aboard the Queen Mary to Scotland and then by train to Polebrook, England, to an air base constructed on the Rothschild estate. Although he came back home without a scratch, it almost wasn’t the case.

Schneider referred to an incident when an active 500-pound bomb had accidentally slipped as it was loading onto the aircraft. A cable had snagged the fin of another bomb.

“The safety block fell out and dangled half an inch from the tarmac. It was half an inch from blowing up,” Schneider recalled, “I put the safety blocks back in and reloaded the bomb into the B-17.”

The ordeal lasted 45 minutes, as he had to crawl into the bomber, taking care to replace the small safety blocks that had fallen out of the fuse.

For his bravery following the situation, Schneider was awarded the Soldier’s Medal. He also received a Bronze Star Medal for developing innovative ways to load bombs.

The calling to serve his country in 1947 would lead Schneider to join Pennsylvania’s Air National Guard during the Korean War. This time he was assigned to the 148th Fighter Squadron based at Carl A. Spaatz Field, now Reading Regional Airport. He completed his military career as a captain.

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