Local veteran recounts memories of Pearl Harbor attack


On the 80th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks, a local veteran recounts the memory of that fateful day.

David Smith, a resident at the Martha Jo Leslie State Veterans Home in Kosciusko, was 16-years old when the attacks happened. He heard President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous announcement while listening to the radio on his family’s farm in Lincoln County.

“We had not even had a radio until just before that happened, “said Smith. “I just remember it being a big deal and then people talking about how everyone has to join in and do whatever they could do.”

Smith said that announcement and the attacks were the reason he enlisted into the United States army.

“I just remembered at that early age, I wanted to be a part of it.”

At only 16-years-old, Smith had to wait two years before he could officially join the service. After finally joining in November 1943, he completed basic training at Camp Shelby.

“They were really needing soldiers more and more….as soon as we got our basic training, they sent us off to battle.”

The battleground Smith was sent to was southern France, which by that time was under Germany’s occupation.

“We had to push’em out of every little town,” said Smith about fighting the Germans.

He recalled a three month period when his battalion stayed in a foxhole due to being snowed in.

“We’d fight every night or two. They’d try to run over us and we’d try to run through them.”

Smith did not make it thought the war unscathed. He was injured by a bullet to the neck and shrapnel under his arm that severed his ulnar nerve, which required him to be sent home to Texas for a medical procedure.

“They wanted to take my arm over off there [Europe], but I talked them into letting me try the skin graft…”

The recovery from that last one year and three months.

Following his time in the service, Smith went to Co-Lin Community College for one year before transferring to study agriculture at Mississippi State. After college, he went on to teach  high school, and Sunday School to children, for a year before retiring as rural mail-carrier after 31 years.

When asked more about what he took away from the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Smith mentioned again how everyone joined in to do their part, even in rural Mississippi.

He talked about how his siblings joined the war effort, some by joining the service like him and some by going to work in factories. .

“It was amazing that people gathered together and helped out.”