World War II veteran, 90, gets medals 67 years later
Nov. 28, 2012 at 5:28 a.m.
It's been 67 years since Guy Lynwood Smith retired from the Navy.
But his voice still cracks when recalling memories of fellow sailors who lost their lives on the USS Boyd while serving alongside him in the South Pacific during World War II.
"We got a hit in the engine room and it killed everyone in there except for one fella ... I'm sure there were shells exploding all in the air because we had two boys who were wounded on the top side," said Smith, 90, recalling his experience on the destroyer as it was attacked in foreign seas in 1942. "The ten who were killed, we had to bury them at sea ... If that shell had been a few seconds later, I wouldn't be here and those ten boys would have gone home."
Smith, a Seadrift native who later moved to Victoria with his wife and children, entered the Navy as a spry 20-year-old and farmer's son. He exited a little more than three years later in 1945 - a man, veteran and decorated war hero.
But 67 years would pass before he would see his war medals.
And on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's District Director Jackie Gloor presented Smith with eight World War II medals at Northside Baptist Church.
"When you get home, you don't think about medals. You're just glad to get home alive," said Smith, who was discharged from the Navy Oct. 9, 1945, as a machinest's mate first class.
Gloor said many World War II veterans have yet to be delivered their medals because they have not yet requested them from their congressional representative.
A few months ago, Smith visited Gloor's office and finally decided to request his medals.
"They came right in. There was no problem getting them at all," Gloor said. "He just had not asked for them before."
Gloor, a Northside Baptist member and Smith's friend, said she was proud to take part in the medal celebration.
"It was very special for me," Gloor said of her friend's ceremony, remembering that Smith was one of the first Northside Baptist members she met when she began attending the church years ago.
Staring at his collection of medals, which includes the Navy Good Conduct Medal, World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with two silver and one bronze star appurtenances, and the Combat Action Ribbon, Smith said he was happy to finally have the medals in his possession.
But there was one medal on the display that he was most proud of, he said.
"Well, I guess it's this little button here that says you're discharged," Smith chuckled. "That would have to be the one I was looking forward to for a long time."