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Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Army Air Corps

Maynard Harrison Smith Sr.

  • Rank: Sergeant (Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant)
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    423d Bombardment Squadron, 306th Bombardment Group,
    8th Air Force
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army Air Corps
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: May 1, 1943
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Brest, France

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty. The aircraft of which Sgt. Smith was a gunner was subjected to intense enemy antiaircraft fire and determined fighter airplane attacks while returning from a mission over enemy-occupied continental Europe on 1 May 1943. The airplane was hit several times by antiaircraft fire and cannon shells of the fighter airplanes, two of the crew were seriously wounded, the aircraft's oxygen system shot out, and several vital control cables severed when intense fires were ignited simultaneously in the radio compartment and waist sections. The situation became so acute that three of the crew bailed out into the comparative safety of the sea. Sgt. Smith, then on his first combat mission, elected to fight the fire by himself, administered first aid to the wounded tail gunner, manned the waist guns, and fought the intense flames alternately. The escaping oxygen fanned the fire to such intense heat that the ammunition in the radio compartment began to explode, the radio, gun mount, and camera were melted, and the compartment completely gutted. Sgt. Smith threw the exploding ammunition overboard, fought the fire until all the firefighting aids were exhausted, manned the workable guns until the enemy fighter were driven away, further administered first aid to his wounded comrade, and then by wrapping himself in protecting cloth, completely extinguished the fire by hand. This soldier's gallantry in action, undaunted bravery, and loyalty to his aircraft and fellow crewmembers, without regard for his own personal safety, is an inspiration to the U.S Armed Forces.

Medal of Honor Recipient Maynard H. Smith Sr.
Medal of Honor Recipient Maynard H. Smith Sr.
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Caro, Tuscola County, Michigan
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details:

    Eighth Army Airfield, England, presented by Sec. of War Henry L. Stimson

  • Born: May 19, 1911, Caro, Tuscola County, MI, United States
  • Died: May 11, 1984, Bay Pines, FL, United States
  • Buried: Arlington National Cemetery (MH) (66-7375), Arlington, VA, United States

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