Visit Results In Long Overdue Reunion

May 8, 2019 GMT

They hadn’t seen each other since 1942.

But James Harvey and Willard Swank picked up right where they left off nearly 77 years ago.

Harvey, 95, while in town for a homecoming tour to celebrate his fame as a Tuskegee Airman, spent several hours with Swank and his wife on Tuesday at the Comfort Inn in Wilkes-Barre Twp.

Harvey graduated from Fairview High School in 1942. He and Swank, a member of the Class of 1944, played on the basketball team together. Harvey is 95, and going to be 96 in July. Swank, the uncle of a longtime Mountain Top district judge, is 92.

They were thrilled to reunite.

“There’s somebody watching over us right?” Swank said.

The high school buddies talked about what they’ve been up to the last seven-plus decades.

“I was hoping I’d get to see someone I knew from back then,” Harvey said. “This is the first since 1942.”

Swank was quick to interject.

“Not many people can do that,” Swank said.

Harvey was the only black person in school at Fairview High.


But his classmates never saw him any different, Swank said. He said he never experienced racism or segregation until he was drafted into the military in 1943.

Harvey was elected class president, was captain of the basketball team and earned the title of valedictorian.

“He was black, but we never made anything of it — why is he black, why is he here, or anything like this. He was here and he went to school with us,” Swank said.

Harvey became one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black fighter pilot unit. He became the first ever African-American fighter pilot to serve in the Korean War.

The friends said the meet up was special

“It’s great to see an old friend,” Harvey said. “It’s been many moons.”

Swank agreed.

“I wanted to see him and shake his hand and congratulate him for what he did in his life,” Swank said.

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570-821-2055, @cvbobkal