71st Armored Field Artillery Battalion WWII

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Former 71stAFA Exec. Officer, Herman Smith

                                Funeral Card and Obituary below graciously supplied by Herman's wife Elaine.      


Lt. Col. Herman R. Smith Jr., USA Ret.

May 31, 1917  — October 19, 2011


    KEIZER  — Herman R. "Smitty" Smith Jr, 94, passed away on October 19th at Salem Hospital from complications following a heart attack in August that occurred 3 days after he returned from his 2 week sojourn at Paradise Cove in Wheeler. He had reflected that he had sadly missed "Uno," his regular travelling companion who was their last surviving Oriental Shorthair show cat.


    Herman was born on May 31, 1917 in Richey, Ill. to Herman R. Smith Sr. and Helga Wenstrom. He graduated from Wilmington High School, receiving a full 4 year scholarship to the University of Illinois; upon graduating from the U. of Ill. in 1939, he received an ROTC commission as a 2nd Lt. and was assigned to the 71st Horse-Drawn Field Artillery Battalion at Ft. Sill, Okla. In fact, his complete uniform-boots, breeches, campaign hat, is included with the GSAVO Military Museum which displays throughout the state. The Army lost its horses prior to WWII and the horse-drawn artillery became the Armored Field Artillery, and his 71st AFA Bn. was attached to the 5th Armored Division, known as the Victory Division. They were part of Gen. Patton's Third Army, whose identity was Top Secret, thus often referred to as Patton's Ghosts. The division landed on Utah Beach on July 26th 1944, and was awarded many honors and citations.


    Back in the U.S. Herman was assigned to the ROTC program at Ohio State University in Cols, Ohio, as Assistant PMS&T. It was at the mess hall in the stadium dorms that Herman met his future wife Elaine Kern Sherfy, who was the dietitian in charge of the Army Mess Hall at Ohio State, in fact, the ROTC staff often had lunch in the students' mess hall because the price of lunch was only 35 cents! (Army allowance for one days ration in the 40's was $1.05). After 2 Ω years in the ROTC program, Herman decided to volunteer for the Airborne-defying the CO, but his request was quickly granted and he was reassigned to attend jump school at Ft. Benning, GA. He and Elaine were married in Columbus, GA, during a rare "free" weekend from school on March 3rd 1948, (only being able to afford one ring,) but lucky to find and share a house with a single lady for the remainder of the course. Herman was the ranking officer (Major) and the oldest (31) student in his class.


    After Jump School he was assigned to the Advanced Artillery School at Ft. Sill for one "boring" year. Boring, because he had recently returned from intense combat in Europe, so he took this opportunity to study for his Ham Radio License, which he obtained, completing the Ft. Sill course, he was ordered to the 25th Division Artillery at Nara Japan-with no concurrent travel-not enough "points." After 1 year, Elaine finally joined Herman in Japan and they had a long delayed honeymoon at the world renowned Fujia Hotel before returning to Nara; they moved into the departing Co's quarters.


    After the Korean War began, the 64th F.A. Bn was alerted for rail movement to the Port of Yokohama for transport to Korea to support the 24th Division. Smith's daily log of the 64th in action was recorded in Lt. Col. K.H. Bailey's book, Firing and Flying for the Field Artillery in Korea; Smith broke his elbow in a fire fight and was evacuated to Japan in November 1950. After the Nara Hospital rehab, he joined the 187th Airborne RCT in Korea and later came back to Camp Yamaguchi in Kyushu as the 457th AFABN's executive officer.


    Subsequently, he spent 3-1/2 years as Executive Officer of the Arctic Test Board at Ft. Greely, Alaska. Finally stateside again to Ft. Bragg Airborne and Electronics Board; overseas to Germany during the Cold War era and CO of the 81st Airborne Field Artillery housed at the historic Rhein Kaserne. The 81st was the nuclear umbrella for NATO and the world. To recognize Smith's German-American liaisons, the city of Mainz presented him with a Medallion of Remembrance for cities' 2000th year of existence. Their return to the U.S. was notable by an ocean crossing on USS United States. He was assigned to Ft. Monroe, Va. As G-3 for CONARC, enjoying 3 years in Hampton, Va. Approaching the end of 3 years at CONARC, he was offered a 6 month tour in Viet Nam with an immediate promotion to full colonel. He chose to retire at Ft. Monroe with all the pomp and circumstance: Parade, band, colors, and an Army Commendation Medal.


    His awards include the American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; ETO Campaign Medal w/1 Silver Star; WWII Victory Medal; Army Occupation Medal(Germany); National Defense Service Medal w/1 Oak-Leaf Cluster; Korean Service Medal w/4 Bronze Stars; United Nations Service Medal; Presidential Unit Citation; Army Commendation Medal w/2 Oak-Leaf Clusters; 3 Overseas Bars; Master Parachutist Badge.


    After a year of trying insurance, writing tech. manuals for Ford Co, he was hired by General Dynamics in 1967 as Marketing Director at Rochester, NY. He bought a Star sail-boat, studied sailing and he and family took sailing classes in seamanship. The family became auto racing fans, living so close to Watkins Glen. After 3 years at G.D. they move to Hull, Mass. and a job with Di/An Controls in Boston as a Field Sales Manager. 7 years later he decided to retire again, and bought an RV trailer-Geoff arrived from Florida and decided to join his parents in an extended jaunt around the U.S. checking in with family and Army friends. In Phoenix Herman found a U of Ill. Classmate who had a trucking company, and this buddy convinced him that he should buy a truck to keep in shape-so he did, and he and Geoff learned to drive a refrigerated transport and they were soon in business as the Gulf Winds Trucking out of Phoenix. They trucked for 5 years, and then found Oregon and the rest of history, as they say.


    Memberships: Keizer Elks, U of Ill Alumni Association, Masonic 60 year Jewel, 5th Armored Div., 11th Airborne Div., Ham Radio Rooster Network (WIFZC), NRA; Military MOWW, MOAA, and Military Masons. Hobbies: Crossword puzzles, coins, avid reader, he enjoyed driving the Willamette Univ. sports bus for several years; he volunteered for the Red Cross and the Senior Center for Day Tripping. He followed conservative politics closely. He was interviewed for American Military Heritage Preservation Society for the Library of Congress. Herman was preceded in death by his first son, James R. who was killed in Vietnam while attempting to rescue a Taiwan Chinese Surgical Team being over-run near Phan Thiet; he later received a Medal posthumously from the President of South Viet Nam.


    Herman is survived by his wife of 63 years Elaine, his son and daughter from a former marriage to Marjorie Boush: Mary Ann Cooper of Grovespring, MO., Herman R. III of Kent, WA, and his son and daughter with Elaine: Geoffrey H. of Keizer and Melanie L. Hornback of Vine Grove, KY, and 6 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.


    A Remembrance Reception will be held at the Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service on Tuesday, November 29th from 2:00 to 4:00 PM. Private family services will be held at Willamette National Cemetery on Wednesday, November 30th at 11:00 AM with Full Military Honors. Arrangements have been by Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.


    Donations may be made in his honor to United PAWS of Tillamook, P.O. Box 159, Tillamook, OR. 97141. Special Thanks are expressed to Dr. Barath Krishnamurthy and his staff, Dr. Gloria Alexander, Dr. Nancy Boutin, Salem Hospital and the Keizer Fire Department.



Last Updated on Thursday, 19 January 2012 20:00  


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