Joseph’s Story

Site created on March 15, 2020

Joseph P. Schwan, "Papa", 96, veteran of WWII passed away peacefully in his Arcadia home on March 6, 2020. He was the son of Joseph Anton Schwan and Magdalene Martha Richter, born in Strasburg, Russia where he was one of 9 siblings. Upon migrating and gaining citizenship the Schwan family called Aberdeen, South Dakota home. 
 
Before joining for the army, he fell in love and was married June 29, 1942 to his late wife, Catherine Concetta Colonna. He volunteered for the army at age 18 and was accepted in October of 1942 upon receiving his citizenship papers. In the spring of 1943 he was given the opportunity to earn his commission as an officer through the Army specialized training program where he received an education from Boston University.

In the Spring of 1944, he was sent to Ft. Benning where he earned his Paratrooper wings. 

In the spring of 1945, he joined the 82nd airborne division, 505th parachute infantry regiment. With only 1 armored brigade from the 7th armored division, the German 21st army surrendered to his division, a 1st in the history of the US army where an entire army surrendered to a single US division. His last assignment before returning home was served as a German speaking interpreter where he was involved in liberating a local concentration camp. 

After serving in WWII, he formed his own construction business in July, 1948, in Chicago, IL. For over half a century Joseph devoted his life to the construction industry. Before coming to Arizona, his footprint was left in Chicago.

In 1960 Arizona became the home of the Schwan family and Double AA Constructors Inc.  began building various projects, commercial and industrial.  As a proud member of the 82nd Airborne Division, which is known as the “All Americans”, the “AA” in the business name was his way of honoring his military service. He built many landmarks around the valley that still stand today. He was committed to absolute client satisfaction and was known for his dependability and integrity. To this day, Double AA Builders, Ltd. second generation legacy lives on. 

He had a love for fast cars, travel, western art, hunting & fishing at the family ranch, his cowboy hat, and was exceptionally proud of his service this country. In 2017, the 82nd Airborne Phoenix chapter named their chapter after Joseph which was an incredible honor. It became the first chapter to ever be named after an individual. 

 He will be dearly missed. May Joseph’s soul rest in peace.

AIRBORNE ALL THE WAY…as he would say! 

 Joseph is survived by; his sister Angeline Schwan, his 5 children; Carol Schwan, JoAnne Schwan, Georgie Stiles(Rich Williams), Joseph Schwan (Tracy), and Geoffrey Schwan, 5 grandchildren, 8 great grandchildren and his companion, Roberta Torres.

 A celebration of life will be held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help at a later date that permits. In lieu of flowers, we ask that donations be made to the Phoenix Joseph P. Schwan Chapter,  82nd Airborne Division Associationthrough https://www.82ndairborneassociation.org/donate.html

He will be put to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, aside his late wife of 78 years, Catherine  Schwan.

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