Smith recalls brothers’ legacy in WWII

Frank Smith was one of six Smith boys from Hopkinton who all served and fought for their country during WWII. Here, he holds the iconic image of the Marine raising the flag at Iwo Jima. Smith was there during the battle. He just celebrated his 94th birthday. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     One Monticello resident, the youngest of six sons who were all drafted and served in World War II at one time, recalled his time in the service as he turned 94 years young.

     Frank Smith, originally from Hopkinton, shared the iconic story of the Smith boys who fought and served for their country: Clarence, Paul, Frederic, Donald, Harold and Frank. The Smith family included 12 children in all.

     “My mom raised 12 kids,” said Smith. “You couldn’t clone another like her.”

     Their parents, Bert and Francis Smith, proudly displayed an American flag in a window of their home, bearing six stars, one for each son in the Armed Forces. Harold, Fred, Paul and Clarence all served in the Army. Don was in the Navy. Frank entered the Marine Corps.

     Smith said he tried to get into the Navy Seals, “but wasn’t big enough.” The next best line of defense, according to Smith, was the Marine Corps. “I wanted to be the best,” he said.

     Smith was the first of six boys to enter the service in February 1942. He trained at Camp Pendleton in California and was sent overseas in 1943. He took part in five Pacific island invasions.

     “I saw the worst combat of all,” recalled Smith.

     He was part of an attack division that was the first one in and the last one out.

     “The Marine division is an assault division,” said Smith. “You don’t retreat; you hold your ground.

     “Many times we didn’t think we’d ever come back. War is hell.”

     Smith was wounded during the Battle of Saipan. He received the Purple Heart for his actions.

     After he recovered, Smith’s most notable honor is being part of the battle at Iwo Jima.

     “I saw the flag go up,” Smith said of the famous Iwo Jima statue of the Marines hoisting the American Flag up out of the rubble. “We were able to succeed in our invasion and took the enemy off the island.”

     It was there that Smith contracted a skin disease and was sent to Camp Farragut in Idaho.

     Harold was the second to enter the service in October 1942. He also served in the Pacific, and ended up in Australia. He was also sent to Philippines where he helped free the islands from Japanese control.

     Don was the third to enter, having worked as a pharmacist before his service. He joined the Navy in December 1943.

     Fred was the fourth in line to join the Army in May 1943. He spent the majority of his time in Canada during the service.

     In November 1944, Paul joined the service. He spent time in Saipan and Okinawa.

     Clarence was the last to join in March 1945. Smith joked that Clarence fought the battle of Ft. Bliss, Texas, because he never left the states.

     While all six brothers were serving, they received word via telegram that their youngest brother, 12-year-old Kenneth, had been hit and killed by a drunk driver while riding his bike.

     “I was in combat and couldn’t get out,” Smith said of missing his brother’s funeral while in Maui.

     Being a veteran, Smith said they all had one thing in mind, and that was service to your country.

     “It was the patriotic thing to do,” he said. “You got called up and you went.”

     Not only did all of the Smith brothers report for duty, but they all returned home to their families as well.

     Smith recalled the moment he arrived home back in Hopkinton, surprising his mother. “I didn’t tell her I was coming home and she about fainted,” he laughed.

     Smith went on to work in the postal service for 26 years after the war. “I worked for the government my whole life,” he said.

     Smith said he thanks God for giving him the longevity he’s had in life, even after what he went through during the war. His mother lived to be 96, so the family genes are strong.

     Smith has two daughters, Kathy and Diane.

     “I am absolutely proud of this country; this country has been good to me,” said Smith. “I never wanted any praise; I was glad to be able to serve this country.”



Subscriber Login