Medals and badges Pfc. Roy F. Smith probably earned

Roy F. Smith was born in 1910 and lived in Roane County, West Virginia. He only had a grammar school education and worked as an automobile serviceman. Roy Smith was married with Majorie Smith. On March 28, 1942, he enlisted at Fort Thomas Newport, Kentucky.

Wedding card for Roy and Majorie Smith (Notice the text on the card: "A Wedding Wish for Today, Tomorrow, and Always")

Pvt. Roy F. Smith started his service career while probably serving in the 3rd Battalion of the 504th PIR of the 82nd Airborne Division as a paratrooper, because the newspaper clipping (see below) says that Pvt. Smith already saw action in Sicily, and the 325th GIR’s first battle at Salerno, Italy; although a Christmas menu card of 1942 lists Pvt. Smith as a member of B Company of the 325th GIR. Roy Smith went overseas about March 1943.

Majorie and her husband Roy Smith

On July 9, 1943 Pfc. Smith saw his first action in Sicily, Operation Husky. The 3rd Battalion of the 504th PIR was dropped near the south shore of Sicily near Gela to secure the roads leading to the beaches and taking out about 16 pillboxes. First and Second battalions landed spread all over Sicily because they were attacked by Friendly Fire which killed 318 troopers. On July 12 the 504th was relieved, but one day later they had to go into battle again. After taken Sicily the 504th returned to its base in Kairouan, Tunisia.

Back in North Africa the 3rd Battalion received their replacements and was sent to Bizerte for special beach assault training with the 325th GIR and Rangers. Several soldiers of the 504 th PIR switched to the 325th GIR; most of them prefered to go into combat by glider rather than by parachute. In early September 1943, the 3rd Battalion of the 504th PIR rejoined the 325th and the Rangers, boarded landing craft, and set out to sea heading for the mainland of Italy. On September 15th the 325th GIR was brought into the beachhead amphibiously at Paestum, south of Salerno, to join the rest of the division.

Pfc. Smith (left) and All American Patch of the 82nd Airborne (right)

After fierce fighting in Italy the 325 th GLI was sent to England to prepare for the Normandy invasion (D-day). On June 6-7, 1944 Pfc. Smith prepared for gliding into occupied Normandy with B Company of the 325 GIR. Everyone was assigned to a seat. The 325th was Airborne at 6.30 hours. It took some time before the planes got into formation and headed to France. The gliders were mostly escorted by P-38’s and British Spitfires. The German Luftwaffe never attemped to attack the armada. Beneath the men saw all over ships in every direction as far as they could see.

The final two glider landings were scheduled in Missions Galveston and Hackensack. Mission Galveston would arrive in two serials of 50 gliders each and while the first would have something of a disastrous landing, the second would fair slightly better, but less than 50% of their equipment would be recoverable. Mission Hackensack, the last to arrive, would bring in the remaining 1,300 glidermen of the 325th GIR and their equipment. Also arriving in two serials, the gliders would begin landing on the 7th at 0900.

Despite heavy anti-aircraft fire, both serials were reached their destinations relatively unscathed with 58 gliders in the first serial landing within five miles of their allotted landing zone and 50 of the second serial landing within a mile of their target. The actual initial losses in crash landings and other causes were only 10-15%, and the glider forces proved crucial to the success of the invasion at sector Utah Beach. Despite the apparent destruction on the ground, the operation was a great success with most of the troops and nearly all their equipment getting delivered to the battlefield. Almost 90% of the 325th GIR’s men were assembled within a few hours.

Roy F. Smith was Wounded in Action in France on June 9, 1944. He was taken to a hospital in England and was awarded the Purple Heart for his wounds during the Normandy invasion.

Pfc. Roy F. Smith's Wounded in Action Newspaper clipping

September 17, 1944, Operation Market Garden started, the largest Airborne Operation of WWII with the Netherlands as target. Delayed a week by bad weather, the 325th GIR landed on September 23. It is not certain if Pfc. Roy Smith participated in Operation Market Garden, because of his wounds received in Normandy. But as Market Garden took place 3 months after Pfc. Smith beying Wounded in Action there is a big chance he recovered from his wounds by the time Market Garden started. The 325th Glider Regiment’s attack turned the tide of battle and earned the Regiment the Distinguished Unit Citation and the Dutch Lanyard.

On December 18, 1944, the 82nd Airborne joined the fighting in Belgium to stop the unexpected suprior German offensive trying to break through the American lines. The 82nd was sent north to Werbomont. The 325th dug in around the crossroads at Baraque de Fraiture and held. During the intense fight in December 1944 the 325th GIR decimated two German Divisions. Somewhere during the Battle of the Bulge Pfc. Roy Smith was wounded again. He was transferred to a hospital in England. There Pfc. Smith Died Of Wounds (DOW) on February 12, 1945.

Pfc. Roy F. Smith is buried at the Cambridge American Cemetery, England, at Plot F Row 4 Grave 130

Pfc. Roy Smith's Purple Heart