Going Home

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Gradually, the men of the 11th Airborne Division would earn their points to be shipped back home and they would allow the fresh, green G.I.’s to take their place in the occupation of Japan.

Click on any photo to enlarge.

Everett (Smitty) Smith would return to Broad Channel, New York to restart his civilian life in February 1946. He gradually got to know Lillian Barrow during his morning rides on the bus, going to his job and he would chuckle whenever he related that story. Despite my mother’s protests, he would relate that he knew why Lillian was always on the same bus with him, but she was being coy. “I was just going to work myself,” my mother argued. Smitty would reply, “Then how do you explain that your job was in the opposite direction than the bus was going? You didn’t know that I was aware of that, did you?” No matter what the reason, they were married 20 September 1947 and I showed up nearly three years later.

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With many thanks to Matt Underwood, Editor of the “Voice” 11th Airborne Association, the ribbons were identified and an explanation of Smitty’s qualifications were explained:
Yellow-orange ribbon with the red, white and blue stripe is the Asian-Pacific Campaign
The PTO ribbon on the ribbon bar shows 3 stars, while the Philippine Liberation ribbon (all red with 2 even-width white and blue stripes in the center) show 2 stars and arrowheads with a slightly non-regulation preference and flair.
What is missing, but is in his records, is the ribbon for the Occupation of Japan. Mr. Underwood explained that many did not receive these as they had been shipped home before the ribbon supply arrived at the base.

The qualification and badges say that he was a primary front line combat infantryman, but his specialist rating (the “T” in the “T-5” rank) was probably because he was rated an Expert in the 37mm Tank Destroyer cannon.

Discharge

Discharge

Smitty’s discharge papers list four campaign stars for the PTO ribbon when most of the 187th Regiment only received three. The Bronze Arrowhead was for the invasion of Luzon, specifically for the 11th Airborne’s joint airborne and amphibious assault landings at Nasugbu Beach and Tagatay Ridge; both south of Manila on 31 January and 3 February 1945 respectfully.

I can honestly say that, as far as I am aware, my father had only one regret in his life and that would be leaving the service. Although my mother would have protested adamantly, he often told me that he should have stayed in the army.

Letter from Pres. Reagan

Letter from Pres. Reagan

Everett (Smitty) Smith passed away 14 May 1988, he was 73 years old. He left behind many who cared for and respected him, but very few who knew this story.

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Smitty and his mother, Anna

Smitty and his mother, Anna

Smitty is seen here at the corner of 9th Road and Cross Bay Blvd. in Broad Channel after returning home.

Researching

Researching

And, here we are in the present, trying to piece everything together. This is not the end of Smitty’s stories… we have yet to talk about the intelligence part in the war, the spies, and still more on the enemy.

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on May 21, 2013, in Letters home, SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 85 Comments.

  1. Thank you for sharing his story. I’m glad he came home, I like the photo with your grandmother and the story about your Mum and ‘their’ bus to work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That was a great post, Gp!

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  3. Good interesting reading, love the bus story.
    Emu aka Ian

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  4. Came back to read again!

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  5. My dad was a Navy man who always wondered whether he should have stayed in , too . He was Pacific Theater , too . Thanks for the very personal story of your father . By the way , I sent for my dad’s military records but haven’t heard anything yet . I’ll have to try again . What ever happened to his campaign ribbons , I don’t know .

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    • It took me 3 months to get my uncle’s USMC records and they come from the same place. I sincerely hope they don’t tell you the records burned up in the 1973 St. Louis fire. I had always been under the impression that the government wanted everything in triplicate – and here with military records one fire in one building loses 16-18 million records!

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  6. The blue ribbon in the gold frame, just below and left of the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, is a Presidential Unit Citation (PUC). Not sure if your father was in the 503rd Infantry Regiment (of the 11th Airborne Division), but the 503rd was awarded the PUC for the capture of Corregidor in February 1945, which suggests he may have been. I recall reading that due to the tiny drop zone and shifting winds due to the presence of nearby cliffs, the jump was made from an altitude of only 500 feet! They expected a 20 percent casualty rate just from the drop along, due to broken legs, etc., but fortunately it was only about half that. Amazing courage.

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    • The 503rd was attached to the 11th A/B during this jump and yes, it was a very low one at that. My father’s ribbon, I’ll have to check up on that, it was either from Los Banos or the re-captured of Luzon. Smitty was not part of the 503rd.

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  7. I missed this post! How nice of Mr. Underwood to have helped you in understanding what all his decorations stood for. There is so much that hasn’t been shared that it is indeed research to discover and understand the men who served.

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    • Yes, it was very nice of Matt Underwood; it had come as a surprise in the middle of trying to research my father’s service. He puts out quite a newspaper for the association too, along with his wife, Lara. It’s not a flimsy 2-4 page newsletter – they do a great job.

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  8. Thanks for the re-cap even for those who have been following for a while! It adds some great perspective and as always I look forward to the posts to come.

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  9. This is a wonderful post and brings to mind my dad who served in Europe in the 3rd Army. He rarely told stories because many of them were so painful. Bu I have a wonderful photo of him on his 21st birthday in Paris with his two best buddies. they are all smiling hugely. All of our people who have served and will serve, deserve our deepest respect and devotion. they are why we are free.

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    • Quite true. My dad is the reason I started this, his unit is what kept me going, and respect for the veterans and current military will continue my determination in this project. And you, as one of my valued friends here, make me very happy – every day.

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      • Thank you for your very kind words. I do not always comment but always enjoy your posts and learning more. If I make you happy, then I am fulfilling a dream. thank you, thank you.

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  10. More great information about your dad. Thanks for including the part about how your mom and dad met–which is, of course, how you got here.

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  11. Truly enjoyed (ing) these stories

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  12. I agree with Pierre. Well done!

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  13. Thank you for letting us get to know your dad. It is an honor.

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  14. GOING HOME What a great title for the heartfelt dream of those who served. We honor those that did not get to “come home”.

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  15. Reblogged this on pacificparatrooper and commented:

    Before we head into WWII once again, I wanted to show some of the more recent readers one of the many reasons why I write this web site…

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  16. Thanks for the nice and informative trip through history, and particularly for sharing the details of your family.

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    • You are very welcome – I’m so happy you enjoyed them. Feel free to add some stories of your own here; anyone you know in the service?

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      • No one recent, and the WW II vet I know is not a very reliable witnesses. But, besides that, I have so many interests that adding an additional task is out of the question. Where I to have some immediate family that could provide stories, memoirs, and such, then it might be different.

        Meanwhile, I’ll keep reading your excellent posts.

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  17. I think it’s important to tell the stories about the civilian lives of soldiers- their habits, affections, relationships- so we see them as people with lives and not just soldiers who go off to fight. What happens to them happens to us. I applaud your efforts and really like this blog!

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  18. The problem of not receiving a ribbon or medal due to troops transferring or going home, is a problem that still existed when I was in. I didn’t find out until several years after Desert Storm that my ship had received the Navy Unit Citation. I got it though. Had a Sailor I worked with as a contractor pick one up for me, after several months of getting BUPERS to update my DD214. 😉

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  19. Loved this post. Their story/stories are dying, will die if we don’t share. Thanks for sharing on your blog.
    And, thank you for stopping by my blog today. http://www.judythewriter.wordpress.com
    Write on.

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  20. Loved thisnblog. Their story is dying, will die unless we share. Thanks for sharing.
    And thanks for stopping by my blog http://www.judythewriter.wordpress.com.
    Write on.

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  21. What a wonderful post! I love learning the meanings behind the ribbons, bars, stars and patches.

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  22. Thanks for visiting my blog, which of course brought me to yours. The archive you are creating here is so valuable; so much of the real history, the people history gets mislaid and thrown away. We need to keep these stories alive, or how will we learn.

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  23. I love the story about your parents riding the same bus even though her job was in the opposite direction from his. It brings back memories of the type of thing I would have done when I was young.

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  24. He had quite an amazing, involved life journey! Most of us only live a fraction of such a life.

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  25. Amazing post, thank you so much for sharing this. I look forward to more.

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  26. gpcox, I feel you only touched on one important badge of your father’s – the Combat Infantryman Badge. The one in the center with the miniature carbine. That is the true “red badge of courage” if I may use an oft-used phrase. It means you were shot at and that you shot back. That was the one “medal” that Ike revered over all others but he was never a recipient as he was never in battle. He knew he was never tested under fire so he never found out how he would react…but your father was and he fought hard for our country.

    And hopefully, without crossing the political boundaries, the letter from Uncle Ronnie is priceless… A true honor from another great American for your courageous father.

    I still look forward to your future posts – albeit I am finding it tough to find quiet time. 🙂

    Keep it up!

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  27. Glad there are more stories to tell, especially about espionage! Always wanted to be a detective myself!

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  28. I love this post! How special to have your Dad’s medals and tags and that letter from Ronald Reagan. I just love reading this stuff. And I’ve got to tell you, some of my most favorite reading is about intelligence and spies! So keep those cards and letters coming cause I’m anxious to continue the story!

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  29. If you need to “translate” any more ribbons, I’m fairly sure I have a book of them around here. I also have the WW2 Officer’s Guide and a number of Blue Jackets Manuals, so if you need data from those, I can get you that two. I don’t have a huge amount on the Pacific theatre, most of my info is from Europe, but I’ve got a large number of Internet bookmarks (on a mostly-dead-but-still-bootable PC) with a lot of information that might help you. If you don’t want to choke up your blog with chatter, you can Email me on the side, and I’ll get you the info as soon as possible.
    Very well done, sir!

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    • We don’t choke easily – whenever you have a story to tell or a way to help me or a friend or follower here – jump in with the data, story, etc. I want as much on here as possible – it ALL needs to be remembered. Thank you!!

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  30. Spies ??? I can’t wait !!! Your research is so interesting and accurate, this is going to be FUM.

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  31. What treasures! All of my grandfathers were WWII vets. My Grandpa taught us all about patriotism. To this day I would never dream of not standing when the flag goes by in a parade or putting my hand over my heart at the National Anthem. I never miss an opportunity to lend a hand to those who serve or have served. I am saddened that our country does not come together in this time of war like they did back in that time of war.

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    • You and me both – the V.A. problem is ludicrous. If politicians put as much emphasis on governing as they do trying to get into office – we’d have no problem.

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  32. Many thanks to your father for his service and to you for the great way you tell his story.
    And thank you for liking ‘Armed, But Not Lethal’, a story about my Bochi.

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  33. Such a wonderful blog! We owe these people our very lives……….

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  34. I’ve enjoyed reading this blog so much. I’m looking forward to more stories you promised and I’m also going back to catch up with earlier ones. Great job.
    Lillian

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  35. Pierre Lagacé

    I have checked all your posts with missing images.
    I posted a comment on each one.

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  36. Pierre Lagacé

    Have you found your parents’ ancestors?
    This would be such a great journey into the past.
    I can help.

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    • My mother, I have info as far back as my great-grand parents (paternal side – British West Indies) maternal side nothing. Smitty’s does not go back at all, father left before his birth and his grandmother left nothing, in fact I don’t know her name.

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  37. The letter from the President is a wonderful keepsake; families must appreciate this tradition. Is it possible for you to obtain the missing ribbon? I think I am correct in saying that families in NZ can apply for medals or awards that should have been awarded but weren’t for any number of reasons.

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  38. Pierre Lagacé

    Anna must have been elated to see her son back and alive.
    Thanks again for sharing your father’s story with everyone.
    I have learn so…. much.

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    • Like I said at the end of the post, we aren’t quite finished with Smitty, but YES grandma was more than thrilled to have her “boy” home.

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  39. Pierre Lagacé

    A reblogué ceci sur Lest We Forget and commented:
    The greatest story ever told…

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  40. Pierre Lagacé

    This is just a great post.
    Your father was a great human being.

    I am so glad I have found this blog around Christmas time.
    This is one of the greatest blog… bar none.
    Honest…

    Like

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