Bill (Swartz) Scott

William John “Bill” (Swartz) Scott was born October 5, 1939 in Stroudsburg, PA and died at age 38 on July 20, 1978 in Los Angeles, CA. He is buried in Fairview Memorial Park in Elmhurst Township, PA. 

The son of a World War II veteran who had served in the European theater, Bill left Moscow, PA and joined the USMA Class of 1962. After surviving Beast Barracks in 6th New Cadet Company, he was assigned to Company M-1 in South Area. 

His cadet years were filled, as were those of his “runt” classmates, with the sure knowledge of the real privilege we all felt to live there—something to which our “flanker” classmates could only dream and aspire! Unconvinced? Watch the old film files of the platoons of Company M-1 at the end of a regimental review executing a “squads left” with immaculate precision to platoon-on-line for the pass-in-review. It’s easy to see how Company M-1 garnered the regiment’s “Best Company” award for the review.

To his companymates, Bill was “a little guy with a lot of scrap, who tackled everything with enthusiasm.” Not surprisingly, he boxed all fours years on the M-1 intramural team, winning one regimental championship. True to his Pennsylvania roots, he was a member of the Pistol Club and the Skeet Club every year. Academics were not an obstacle for him. But there were often equally or more important things on his agenda, like solid, caring relationships with his companymates.

Perhaps the utter “goodness” of his character is best exemplified in this vignette by his roommate, our companymate, Al Scarsella:

Bill had been a great roommate throughout firstie (senior) year. As my platoon sergeant, he picked up the slack whenever the occasion required, with his usual quiet efficiency and unusual good humor. No matter the task, Bill always was ready and willing to do whatever was required and then a bit more, whether it was prepping for inspection, critiquing our performance, or coaching me through the finer points of ordnance engineering.

He seldom talked about himself and was habitually self-effacing, always seeking to share whatever plaudits were earned by his efforts. He was the personification of constancy despite his trademark comment that “it’s all relative.”

One weekend I was going to NYC and Bill wanted to be absolutely sure that he understood the sequence of commands that he would have to execute during Saturday review as acting platoon leader. Dressed in shorts, t-shirt, and shower clogs, he strapped on his saber, donned his tar bucket, and marched around our desk issuing his commands until he was absolutely sure he had it down pat. I managed to suppress my hilarity while coaching his performance, but later, when Bob Andrews asked if Bill was prepared for the job, I assured him that Bill was indeed prepared and described Bill’s practice session to Bob, Don Snider, Chan Armstrong, and Bobby Garrett. The process was so typical of Bill that we all had a good laugh at the easily imagined scene. Unfortunately, the tale became quite popular.

When I returned from my weekend, Bill confronted me to let me know he did not appreciate my indiscretion, which had resulted in good natured jibes throughout the weekend. Duly chastised, I had to forego the famous admonition, “Never apologize.” It was the only time Bill showed his temper with me, but he chuckled and admitted that the whole thing must have been pretty funny, and, happily, the result of his comically thorough preparation had been an excellent performance.

After graduation Bill was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force and took off in a different direction from us, his M-1 companymates. He served in the Vietnam conflict, then left active service with the rank of first lieutenant shortly after our mandatory four-year commitment. 

Unfortunately, little is known about Bill after he left active duty. His Cullum file indicates that in 1978 he was living in Santa Monica, CA and had been an “entertainer” since 1969. It also indicates he officially changed his name in 1977 to William James Scott. His military headstone in the cemetery in Pennsylvania, however, names him as we knew him, “First Lieutenant William John Schwartz.”

Whatever his occupation, it was clearly all too brief. Bill was the kind of person anyone would be happy and proud to know and serve with. Quiet humor with a good dose of sarcasm, steady workmanlike effort, and good-natured acceptance of life’s vicissitudes were qualities that endeared him to his classmates—not a bad sort of reputation to have built in his brief sojourn. As Bill might summarize, “It’s all relative.”

— His companymates in M-1

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s