Arny Walter Schwendeman, born October 31, 1920, in Brainerd, Minnesota, gave up his fight for life on December 9, 2012. Arny was a fighter. He learned to fight early in life to defend himself from the boys who teased him because his name was Ardell, which he changed to Arny when he was eighteen. He fought in the Golden Gloves. During one of his matches, refereed by Jack Dempsey, he won after being knocked down seven times.
Arny came from a military family. His father, two brothers, and daughter also served. He loved to point out that his father lied about his age at fifteen to be able to join the Army during World War I.
Arny joined the service in 1942. During his career in the Air Force, he was trained on a C-47 troop carrier aircraft as a Crew Chief . His unit was the 438th Troop Carrier Group, 89th TC. The squadron was involved in parachute and supply drops in the European theater. His squadron dropped the paratroopers about which the movie A Bridge Too Far was based, as well as those from the Band of Brothers at Normandy on D-Day.
Arny was discharged from the Air Force in October of 1945. In December, he reenlisted. He was assigned to Germany for a year, spent the following year recruiting, and then became a member of the Special Services Unit. He played football for the Hamilton Air Force Base, and participated in baseball and basketball. In 1952, he was sent as First Sergeant of the Korean First Air Postal Squadron. He returned home in 1953, and received an honorable discharge. Among the many honors he received, he was most proud of the medal for participation in the Normandy invasion, and the citation signed by Harry Truman.
Arny worked at Boeing as a machinist for many years, before leaving to join the Wrigley Gum Co. in 1970. He retired in 1982, as the superintendent of the maintenance and new machinery departments.
After retiring, he returned to the Pacific Northwest where he and his family had hunted and vacationed for many years. He lived in Tokeland, before moving to Raymond to join his fiancée. Arny was very active in the VFW and the American Legion. He served as president for both clubs and most recently as quartermaster for the VFW until his failing health this fall forced him to resign.
He was preceded in death by his brother, Milton. He is survived by siblings, Arlene Schmidt of Bemidji, Minnesota and Jerry (Lou) Schwendeman of Tokeland, Wash.; children, Judy Keller and Larry Schwendeman of Brainerd, Minnesota and Theresa (Earl)Horner of Fort Wayne, Indiana; as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He is also survived by Dorothy Brown and her children and grandchildren.
A service and celebration of life will be held in the summer. Donations in his memory may be made to the Raymond VFW or American Legion posts in lieu of flowers.