Thomas Baxter Sweeney
PVT in 406th Engineer Combat Co
Military occupational specialty: 121 (utility repairman)
Born 1922 in NJ, Died 2009
County of residence at enlistment: Camden County, NJ
Other residence(s): Gloucester City, NJ; National Park, NJ
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: electrician, railroad
Thomas Sweeney was born on May 7, 1922 in Gloucester City, NJ. He was an only child; his father was a helper in a shipyard, and later a watchman at a radiator company.
Thomas appears to have graduated from high school in Gloucester City; by the time he registered for the draft, on June 30, 1942, he was working for the Pennsylvania Railroad in Camden, NJ. The 1943 Camden City Directory lists him as an electrician with the railroad.
Thomas was one of 15 young men from Gloucester City who enlisted in the Army between March 15-22, 1943; all but three of them were 18 or 19 years old. On March 25, they found themselves on a train headed to Camp Gordon, Georgia. There they would join the newly activated 293rd Engineer Combat Battalion, and be assigned to Company A. That spring and summer they trained in Georgia and Tennessee, and that fall boarded a train for Camp Pilot Knob, aka the Desert Training Center, five miles from Yuma, Arizona (just inside the California border). In mid-January 1944, the commander of the 293rd received an order to detach his best company for a secret mission. He selected Company A, and by January 30, 1944 the men were back in Tennessee. On April 7, 1944, Company A of the 293rd was officially reassigned and renamed as the 406th Engineer Combat Company, and the unit boarded a ship to England in early May.
That July, as the men of the 406th headed across England on their way to the war, the train stopped in the city of Gloucester. Here the local NAAFI (the organization that runs recreation, canteens, and PXs for British servicemen) served them tea, which was quaffed amid cheers from the soldiers from Gloucester City, New Jersey.
After their service in the Ghost Army all 15 men returned to the states. They were feted on July 14, 1945 by the Third Ward Regular Democratic Club while back in Gloucester City on 30-day furloughs. After his discharge, Thomas returned to his job with the Pennsylvania Railroad and moved back in with his parents.
He married Dorothy Brown in September, 1953; they would go on to have two children: Michael and Sharon.
He continued to work as an electrician with the Pennsylvania RR for the rest of his career. His obituary states that he "was known for his generosity, his love for his grandchildren, and his artistic talents."
Thomas died on November 25, 2009 in National Park, NJ and is buried at Gloucester County Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Williamstown, NJ. His graveside service was conducted with military honors.
1942 draft card
1943 Camden city directory
1943 article in the Morning Post (Camden, NJ) about him and 14 other Gloucester veterans of the 406th Engineers—all of them (plus others from the area) were being sent to Fort Dix for training
1945 article in the Morning Post (Camden, NJ) about him and 15 other Gloucester veterans of the 406th Engineers
1953 US newspaper marriage index
2009 NJ death index
2009 Find a Grave record
2009 Social Security death index
406th Unit History Compiled