Technician 4th Class Leo Smith, a native of Julian, Boone County, West Virginia, was born in 1916, the oldest child of Henry J. and Caldonia A. Smith. Henry and Caledonia’s family consisted of brothers Paul, Doutain, Henry (better known as Lon), Leo, George, and sister Blanche. Caledonia died while the children were growing up, and Henry J. remarried and raised another family.
According to U.S. Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, Leo registered at Huntington on January 20, 1941. At his registration, he stated that he was single, had attended four years of high school, and was engaged as a semiskilled miner or mining-machine operator. Leo’s brother Doutain provided further details: Leo attended grade school at Julian Elementary and graduated from Montgomery High School. Prior to his enlistment, he worked in the coal mines. Doutain remembers his older brother as being “very industrious.”
Doutain Smith recalled that Leo was “very intelligent” and “had a good personality.” Because Leo was the oldest child, and perhaps because of the death of his mother, he was, in Doutain’s words, “very caring for the family.” When the U.S. became involved in World War II, there seemed to be no question that all the brothers in the Smith family, as was the case with many families, would do their service.
|In addition to Leo, Paul saw action and was awarded the Silver Star. Lon, on the other hand, joined the Navy, and Doutain signed up for the Navy but saw no action because he received a medical discharge. George, who was too young to enlist in the Army during the war, signed up after the war was over when he became old enough. Nor did their contributions stop with military service; Doutain’s wife Agnes was a Rosie the Riveter!|
A story (“Silver Star Given”) in the July 12, 1945, Battalion Reporter describes Paul’s gallantry:
It isn’t every man who can leave the service bearing a silver star for gallantry in action. And Pvt. Paul Smith, long member of Btry. A, has reason to be proud.
Leo Smith’s life in the military probably followed the same course as thousands of others—days of intense action followed by the lull of boring days on end. A May 13, 1944, V-mail to his brother Doutain reflects on his daily life and his eagerness to hear from his family:
|T/4 Smith was assigned to the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, he died in Luxembourg on January 19, 1945. (More on the Battle of the Bulge can be found at http://www.army.mil/botb/ or http://worldwar2history.info/Bulge/. A detailed account of this military campaign is Hugh M. Cole’s online book The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge [http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/7-8/7-8_cont.htm].)|
|For his service, Leo was awarded the Purple Heart. He was buried in the Luxembourg American Cemetery.|
Information and pictures were provided by Leo’s brother Doutain Smith and his wife Agnes and their daughter Sandra Hutchinson. Article by Patricia Richards McClure.
West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history. For more information contact Constance Baston at (304) 558-0230.
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