Arthur Sweeney Jr. ’45

Arthur Sweeney Jr. ’45 died on March 8, 2017, in Topsham, Maine.

(The following was published in the The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on March 12, 2017:)

SOUTH FREEPORT – Arthur Sweeney Jr., a resident of South Freeport for almost seven decades, died at The Highlands, Topsham, on March 8, 2017. He was four months shy of his 95th birthday.

A descendant on his father’s side of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins of Mayflower fame, he was born in July 1922 in Lawrence, Mass., to Arthur Sweeney and Mildred Louise (Grimes) Sweeney. Growing up in Andover, Mass., he exhibited a fair amount of youthful exuberance, attending six prep schools before graduating from the Holderness School in 1941.

At Holderness he performed in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, sang in the choir, and served as editor and publisher of the school yearbook, “The Dial”, in his senior year. Following graduation from Holderness, he enrolled in Bowdoin College but left Bowdoin in order to defend his country by joining the US Army Air Corps (the fore-runner of today’s US Air Force). Following commissioning and training as a bombardier, he was assigned to the 737th Bomb Squadron/454th Bomb Group, flying B-24 heavy bombers, and later, in a unique experiment, as a bombardier-navigator in a modified P-38 fighter-bomber. He flew 29 combat missions over Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe. He was awarded the highly prestigious Distinguished Flying Cross as well as the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf clusters and the Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal with six campaign stars. His war service is recounted in “The Story of a Bombardier in World War II: Arthur Sweeney Jr. 1941-1945”, a book written and published by his wife Edith Sweeney in 2007-2008.

After the war Arthur returned to Maine and to Bowdoin, and following graduation he accepted a job as a purchasing agent with Bath Iron Works and bought a house on Harraseeket Road in South Freeport. Never one for change, Arthur remained with BIW until he retired in 1979, and lived on Harraseeket Road until he moved to the Highlands in 2012. That said, eventually tiring of Maine winters, he and Edith became “snowbirds” in the 1980s, spending winters in Arizona and returning to Harraseeket Road in the spring. He was a familiar face around the village of South Freeport and never met a stranger. He was a longtime member of the South Freeport Cemetery Association.

Arthur was predeceased by his wife of 61 years, Edith, his three siblings Martha, Joan and John; and a grandson, Cameron Miller. He is survived by his three daughters, Alice Miller, Elizabeth Sweeney, and Louise Ritenhouse; and by four grandchildren, Franklin Miller Jr., Aaron Bailey, Jessica Ritenhouse and Isabelle Ritenhouse.