Schanck, Spafford Walling Jr.

Name: Schanck, Spafford Walling Jr, SGT, USA

Local address: 160 Main Street, Matawan, NJ (residence since razed)

Spafford, born September 19, 1923 in New Brunswick, NJ, was the only son of Spafford Walling Schanck, Sr (1899-1985) and Bertha A. Story (1900-1990). His father owned Matawan Lumber Company from 1938 to 1981 and was also a local general contractor. Spafford Sr was a borough Councilman and was Matawan’s mayor from 1954 to 1958. After divorcing Bertha in 1958, he remarried Katherine Wolf (1917-2003) and had a daughter by that marriage in Virginia.

Spafford Jr was very active in the local Children of the American Revolution (CAR) Mary Stillwell chapter and was president on several occasions. He had an appendectomy 1939 at the Presbyterian Hospital in Newark. Although newspaper articles after his death stated he was a member of the 1941 Matawan High School graduating class, he is not listed in that year’s graduation. An article was found, however in The Daily Record dated June 12, 1941 listing him as a graduate of Eatontown High School. Upon graduation, he attended the Westminster School in Fulton, MO, then matriculated to Lehigh University in Pennsylvania in 1942.

His February 1942 draft registration record indicated he was 5’10”, 165 pounds, brown hair and eyes. He was subsequently inducted into the army and was bussed from Freehold to Ft. Dix on April 2, 1942 for processing. He then initially trained to be an army medic in Camp Davis, NC and then off to the army’s O’Reilly General Hospital in Springfield, MO to care for sick and wounded soldiers. He later transferred to the infantry and was sent to England in August 1944 with the 378th Infantry Regiment, 95th Division, attached to Patton’s 3rd Army.

The 378th was involved in some of the war’s heaviest fighting. Pushing into Germany that September, they faced fierce German resistance from an enemy fighting to protect its homeland. Infantry riflemen losses were horrendous, with some units experiencing a casualty rate of over 50%. In late September the 378th was involved in crossing the Saar River near Saarlautern, Germany. On December 3, 1944, the unit was ordered to cross the Saar below Saarlautern at the suburb of Ensdorf, at which time he was seriously wounded. He was returned to nearby France that day where he succumbed to his wounds.

In the fall of 1981, Spafford’s mother Bertha donated a shadowbox of Spafford’s medals to the Historical Society, which included the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. When Bertha died nine years later, her obituary indicated she had no known survivors. Initially buried in the US Military Cemetery in Pagny-Mosselle, France, his remains were returned in 1948 and are now in the Maplewood Cemetery in Freehold.

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Mark Chidichimo
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