Hamilton man who avoided 2 WWII bomber crashes celebrates 100th birthday

It’s amazing a Hamilton man survived World War II, let alone lived long enough to celebrate his 100th birthday today.

While serving in the U.S. Army Air Corp during WWII, Corliss “Dan” McSwain was notified his mother, Mary, was very ill so he was sent home to Hamilton. While he was gone, his B-17 crew was dispatched and the plane was shot down.

Then when his mother died, he was allowed to attend her funeral, and again his crew was shot down.

“Very lucky,” McSwain said. “I have had so many breaks.”

By the time McSwain returned to the service, he was told “you’re going home” because the war is over.

Back in Hamilton, he worked at Champion Papers International and was a well-known fast-pitch softball player, along with his brothers, Arthur and Merle. All three were inducted into the Butler County Softball Hall of Fame.

McSwain, a 1938 Hamilton High School graduate, served as a B-29 Engineer. It was Commander Paul Tibbets’ B-29s that delivered the death blow in the war with Japan.

When asked the keys to a long life, McSwain said: “Luck. I think you have to like life. I don’t understand how I got this old. I’d live forever if they let me.”

McSwain and his wife, Betty, who died 12 years ago, were very active in the local Church of Christ congregations, where he served as a Sunday school teacher, deacon and elder.

McSwain has three sons, Ronnie, 78, Gary, 72, and Michael, 66; seven grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

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