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Samuel Ralph Smith
Courtesy Bobbi Sibold

West Virginia Veterans Memorial

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Samuel Ralph Smith Jr.
1919-1944

Samuel Ralph Smith Jr. was born on June 16, 1919, in Twin Branch, West Virginia, the son of Samuel Ralph and Nellie Stewart Smith. Nellie died when he was 7 years old, and his father later remarried. Samuel, called “Ralph,” grew up in Greenville on the family farm, where three generations lived together.

After graduating from Greenville High School, Ralph attended Concord College, where he received a teaching degree. He taught in a small school located at Sarton and boarded with a family there.

Ralph entered the Army in June 1942. After basic training, he went to flight school in Valdosta, Georgia, where his received his wings and was promoted to second lieutenant. He went to Oklahoma City for advanced training and while there met Jo Ann C. Harper whom he married on May 16, 1943.

Assigned to the 60th Repair Division Squadron as an engineering officer and test pilot in Port Mosby, New Guinea, he flew as an observer over Japan and other enemy territory. He was promoted to first lieutenant in January 1944.

On March 25, 1944, the base on New Guinea came under attack after Ralph had returned from a flight to Australia. He attempted to get his plane airborne again but was hit and killed. Originally buried in Australia, the body of 1st Lt. Samuel Ralph Smith was returned to the United States and in June 1948 was interred in Arlington National Cemetery.

Sources: Don and Bobbi Sibold, Monroe Watchman

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