Woodrow H. Smith

55 Woodrow Henry Smith enlisted at age 21 as a member of Company A, 501st Parachute Battalion. The 501st Parachute Battalion was the first Parachute Battalion authorized by the War Department and served as the Cadre for the 502nd PIR. By the end of 1942 Woodrow was transferred to the G Company, 3rd BN, 506th PIR.

Woodrow H.Smith during 501st.land based training
Woodrow H.Smith during 501st.land based training

Woodrow Smith never saw the hissing grenade that bounced into his foxhole on June 6, 1944. His last memory of that day was of his grabbing his helmet and dropping to the dirt, expecting the shrapnel and concussion. Smith, a Carrollton resident, woke up an hour later near the Normandy Beach with fellow-soldiers scraping mud out of his eyes, also searing for the helmet he’d tried to preserve. By day’s end Smith was a prisoner of war(June 44-April 45)and would remain a POW until the surrender by his captors to the Allies in 1945.

Woodrow Smith's POW ID photo, taken when he was first processed at the German POW camp Stalag XIIA.
Woodrow Smith’s POW ID photo, taken when he was first processed at the German POW camp Stalag XIIA.

Smith is one of an estimated 142,000 U.S. servicemen awarded by the Department of Defense for “honorable service while a prisoner of war.” Smith,retired from the Army in 1945, only to re-enlist into active duty the following year. He retired again in 1959, though he stayed in the Army reserves as a warrant officer. He is buried in the Family plot in Carollton, Ga.