RICHARD J. SMITH
RICHARD J. SMITH
One year ago John "Richard" Smith, AKA; Dick Smith, AKA; Richard J Smith fought his last battle early on Oct. 8, 2012.
Richard attended Morris Senior High School, excelling both scholastically and in sports. After graduation, with war on the horizon, Richard managed to squeeze in a season pitching with the Minneapolis Millers AAA baseball team. His college time was cut short by the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Richard entered general combat at Normandy, France in June, 1944, leading a machine gun platoon in Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army. Combat operations continued without letup through the Battle of the Bulge until assaults into Czechoslovakia by Richard's division effectively cut the Third Reich in half. Richard later commented that of his original company he was one of three men present for duty at the end.
During the campaign, an action by Richard Smith typified the man. One night, an American machine gun team was knocked out and two wounded men were cut off by German machine gun fire. Richard crawled for a long distance, crossing a stream to reach the position. The two men were greatly distressed but Richard administered combat first aid and assured them that everything was going to be alright. He then evacuated each man one at a time, crawling with them on his back until they were safely inside U.S. lines. Richard then returned a third time to retrieve the crucial crew-served weapon. By that time the Germans were aware of what was happening and Richard himself became pinned down by heavy fire, forcing him to remain submerged in the streambed for a couple hours until he was able to make his escape. Richard's service that night was officially recognized with the Bronze Star with V Device.
Richard received a battlefield commission from Sergeant to First Lieutenant, followed by Officer Candidate School. Decommissioning at the end of the Korean War as Captain, Richard continued serving his country as the Postmaster in Morris, Minn., where he had grown up, and retired as a Postal Inspector based out of Milwaukee, Wisc. at which time he moved to Tucson, Ariz.
Richard enjoyed his family and was always committed to helping others. On many occasions he expressed how lucky he was to capture such a beauty both inside and out in Barbara Smith, his wife of 60 years. At the time of his death he was comfortable that his children were doing well and that his wife would be taken care of.
He is greatly missed and continually loved. May he continue to rest in peace. Richard is survived by his wife Barbara, his sister Colleen Bentley, daughters Deborah and Sheila, and sons Rory and Neill, along with two grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his father, John F. Smith, his mother, Laura, and brother, Jerome.