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Special Collections

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Gettysburg College Box 420
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MS – 117: Papers of George H. Sweet Jr. ’42

(3 boxes, 0.81 cubic feet)

Inclusive Dates: 1941-2004

Bulk Dates: 1941-1945

Processed by: Elizabeth Ungemach

October-December 2010

Link to Full Finding Aid - PDF


Special Collections received the papers and materials of George H. Sweet Jr. ’42 and the recollections of Donald H. Sweet ’49 from George Sweet in 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2008.


George H. Sweet Jr. ’42 was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity while at Gettysburg. He enlisted in the Navy in February 1942 and, after graduating in May with a B.A. in Economics, he was called to active duty in August of that year. He went to basic training at Notre Dame and then Midshipman’s School at Columbia University, graduating in December 1942. Sweet was commissioned as an ensign and assigned to L.S.T. (Light Ship-Tank) 358, part of the amphibious forces in the Mediterranean. He was given command of L.S.T. 358 as a lieutenant j.g. at the age of 24 (he believes he was the youngest commander of an L.S.T.) until December of 1944 and participated in the invasions of Sicily and Anzio. Mr. Sweet wrote a book, entitled Lightning Strikes: A Story of Amphibious Actions during World War II: The Adventures of LST 358 in the Mediterranean Sea during World War II, about his experiences in the Mediterranean during the war that was published in 2000. He also came to speak to Professor Michael Birkner’s Senior Seminar on World War II (Hist 421) in March 2004.

Donald H. Sweet ’49 attended Mercersburg Academy after graduating from high school. He completed his military training in aviation ordinance at the naval Aviation Technical Training Corps Station in Jacksonville, Florida. Sweet served as a combat aircrewman in the Pacific theater at Okinawa and trained new crews after he returned home in late 1945. After the war, Donald Sweet attended Gettysburg, followed his brother’s footsteps by pledging Phi Delta Theta, and graduated in 1949, also with a B.A. in Economics. He wrote several books about his experiences in the war, including The Sailor Aviators: A Tale of the Men of Navy Patrol Bombing Squadron 21 in World War II, published in 1997, and Seaplanes at War: A Treasury of Words and Pictures, published in 1999. Donald Sweet also recorded some of his wartime recollections on two CDs. He joined his brother George when the latter came to speak to Professor Birkner’s class in 2004 (a photo of them during their visit is on this aid’s cover).

Scope and Content Notes:

This collection gives insight into the pre- and inter-wartime life of George H. Sweet Jr. ’42 as a member and captain of L.S.T. 358 in the Mediterranean. It also provides general information about World War II in the Mediterranean and L.S.T.s. It further gives a glimpse of the experiences of Donald Sweet ’49 as an aircrewman in the Pacific theater, specifically about life and important happenings during the invasion of Okinawa in 1945.

Series Description:

The collection is divided into seven different series: I. Gettysburg; II. Wartime Artifacts; III. Wartime Photographs ; IV. Newspaper Articles; V. Campus Visit; VI. Background Information on L.S.Ts, the Navy in WWII, the Fleet in the Mediterranean, and the War in General; and VII. Multimedia: Twelve films about L.S.T.s, the campaign in the Mediterranean, and the war at sea and a recording of Donald Sweet discussing his part in the invasion of Okinawa.

Link to Full Finding Aid - PDF