Kenneth F. Sweeney


bulletLetters from Kenneth to Jane
bulletUSS Emmons Information

Ask anyone in Livingston Manor, NY about Kenneth Sweeney these days and not many people, if any, remember any family living here by that name. Though the name was not considered a "local" name, Kenneth Sweeney was indeed a local boy.

Frank P. Sweeney met Miss Emma Knoll, the daughter of George Knoll of Morrston, and the two were married in 1914. With an occupation of marble cutter, he found work at Honesdale, Pennsylvania, where they made their home. It was there that their son, Kenneth, was born. The Knoll family, no doubt, rings a bell amongst us "locals", Emma being an aunt of the Knoll twins, Edith and Geneva, making Ken Sweeney their cousin.

Frank Sweeney died not long after the move to Honesdale, in 1919, at the young age of 43, after which his widow and young son Ken moved back to her home town. Ken was a member of the Livingston Manor High School graduating class of 1931, and like other Knoll family relatives, decided on a career in education. While teaching at a Great Neck, Long Island, school, Kenneth joined the Naval Reserve, where he received officer training. Kenneth Sweeney was commissioned as Lieutenant Junior Grade, and sailed on the destroyer, USS Emmons.

The Emmons had a long career throughout the war; escort duty and submarine patrol on the North Atlantic, part of the naval armada of ships prepared for the Normandy invasion, joining in the allied bombardment, and guarding troop transports from submarine attack. She returned to the states at the end of 1944 and was refitted as a minesweeper and set sail for the Pacific war theater.

In preparation for an attack on Okinawa, the Emmons, along with the USS Rodman, on April 6th, was clearing the waters for the assault when the ships were attacked by Japanese suicide planes. When the Rodman was initially struck, the Emmons circled the damaged ship providing anti-aircraft cover against the suicide pilots. Even with the wall of anti-aircraft sent skyward, she was struck by five kamikaze planes, striking the Combat Information Center on the ship's superstructure twice. Lieutenant Sweeney was combat information officer in charge of radar, and with his command of fifteen men, were no doubt at their battle stations when towers were hit. After the battle, the stricken ship's ammunition continued to explode, causing further casualties and damage. After the survivors were picked up, the Emmons was abandoned and sunk. Sweeney, along with 59 other sailors, probably went down with the ship.

Today, at the Orchard Street Cemetery in Livingston Manor, is the final resting place for Kenneth F. Sweeney; if not in body, at least in memory.  -  Fred

Kenneth F. Sweeney was a teacher at Great Neck High School before joining the Navy and was chairman of the Junior High School Section of the Southeastern Zone of the New York State Teachers Association at the meeting held at ...

After he entered the service in 1943, he started a letter correspondence with one of his former students at Great Neck High School.  Recently, about 60 letters from Kenneth to the young lady were found in an attic.  The long-distance relationship between a 29 year old teacher and a 17 year old student blossomed into more than letters from a lonely Navy man and an infatuated teenager  until his ship, the USS Emmons, was destroyed by Japanese kamikazes in the Pacific in 1945 and Kenneth was missing in action and presumed dead.