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
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
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.
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