Hospital for the holidays won’t slow this 94-year-old veteran

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A 94-year-old World War II veteran is spending the holiday season in a Morgantown hospital reflecting on his life and rebuilding his strength with hopes of returning home.

During World War II more than 450,000 men and women of the United States Air Force served in Britain, 30,000 of them made the ultimate sacrifice. Those who returned home continued a career in the military, went back to the farm, took a job in industry or like Carl Schoonover took a job in education.

Schoonover, now 94, of Parsons, spent 33 years after the war as a high school teacher in Oakland, Maryland.

In Britain, he was a tail gunner in a B-17G Flying Superfortress based in England in 1944. Schoonover flew 27 missions and was shot down once.

Kevin Monn is one of the aviation piston engine mechanics trained by the military and developed a friendship with Schoonover over the last 10 years.

Monn says one of the B-17s Schooner flew was called “American Beauty” and was creditted with 51 bombing missions.

Schoonover is now in the Intensive Care Unit at Mon General Hospital in Morgantown, again battling for his life and his family would like him to receive Christmas cards to help his morale.

Schoonover, or “Schonney” as he prefers to be called, has never been a stranger to adversity. At the age of 18-months his father died while trying to save his drowning aunt. From that time, he was raised by his mother and sister and was required to act as the “man of the house.”

When Schonney entered the military in 1944 he picked the Air Corps because his uncle was a pilot and he thought flying was very interesting.

He qualified to train as a pilot, but chose gunner school to avoid a four week wait for flight training. After gunner school he arrived at his duty station in Sudbury, England at the age of 19 in 1944.

On January 10, 1945, the B-17 Schooney was aboard was down to one of four engines and looking for a place to crash land in friendly territory. Schooney told WAJR News the crew set the plane down Five miles inside friendly territory in France.

“It took about an hour but a half-track picked us up,”Schooney said,”They took us to a B-29 base and flew us right back to England.”

The next day Schooney says he was back in the tail gunners position and it wasn’t a bi deal, it was just what service members did.

“He talked a lot about what it was like to climb back into the planes each day when all your friends didn’t come back,”Monn said,”We made a joke and come up with the “fellowship of the not dead yet” because we’re just the guys that go in do what has to be done because somebody has to do it.”

If you would like to send a card to Schooney please do:

SSG Carl “Schooney” Schoonover
1200 J.D. Anderson Dr.
Morgantown, W.Va. 26505