m. 1 Apr 1920
m. 18 Oct 1948
Facts and Events
Memories by Carlee Smith:
Robert Charles Smith" He took voice training. He liked to sing. He played football on the football team. He liked to act in plays.
I sorted some of my mother's papers and found a journal she had written about my father, Robert Smith's military history. I will capsulize it.
In September of 1929, Robert started to school in the first grade of the Aztec Public School, then managed to squeeze by into the next grade each year, except for one year when he misjudged his teachers laxness and had to try the fourth grade twice.
On June 18, 1941, he rode a bicycle 20 miles into Farmington, New Mexico to join the United States Marine Corps. After being taken to Denver, Colorado, where he was given a physical examination and sworn into the Corps at 4 o'clock on June 23, 1941.
At 9 p.m. he with 21 other fellows boarded a pullman for San Diego. They arrived about 4 p.m. on Wednesday Jun 24, 1941, to begin the worst six weeks of his life--"Boot Camp."
He and 59 others were formed into Platoon 40 under Platoon Sergeants...
Then began the days of "Fall in! Fall out! On the double! Column right ! Column left! right oblique! left flank! rip ho! rip Ho! Platoon halt! forward march! scrub your clothes! field day, chow down. Hold that mess gear level, don't spill any chow on the deck, mail call, forget that letter, get closer to that razor! shine those shoes! oil that rifle! Hair cuts, drawing clothes, shoes too big, long days, short nights, ten mile hikes, inspections.
Then came the rifle range, pistol range, 22 range, firing a rifle with a 200# man on his shoulders, off hand setting, kneeling, prone to standing to prone, standing to sitting, rapid fire, slow fire.
After one more week of reconversion, so they said. [I don't know what this means] Finally final inspection then break up.
After spending 5 weeks in Sea School he was transferred to United States Fleet Training Base Marine Barracks San Clemente Island San Diego California There he remained for eleven months.
Until December 7, 1941, there was very little to do except sleep whether on watch or off.
On the first day of December 1941, he was granted liberty to expire on December 9, 1941 at 8 O'clock when the ship would arrive at the island. He spent four days of that liberty in St. George, Utah. [out of bounds]
In fact on the evening of December 7, 1941, he was about to board the bus to return to San Diego when he heard for the first time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which he wouldn't believe until they put off civilians to pick up service men returning to camp.
After his return to camp, the training began. After so much free time, 5:30 AM reville was rather hard to take. He is now thoroughly convinced that in all the training he has taken that he has never seen an obstacle course or a training course as rugged as San Clemente.
The island was turned into a training base for the Coast Guard and for the Roosevelt Raiders. Between training with the raiders and training [with] the Coast Guard, the next five months were plenty rugged.
On August 31, 1942 he was transferred to "I" Co 6th Reg. 2nd Division Fleet Marine Force, Camp Pendleton California, where he trained until the 27th September, 1942, when he was granted a 13 day furlough which was spent in St. George, Utah. Upon his return to Camp, preparations were made for boarding ship to destination unknown.
After boarding the DSS Brastogi, a converted Dutch freighter on Sept 19, 1942, the convoy sailed from San Diego bay at 5:30 pm on Sept 20. Next was 25 days of crowded compartments, salt water baths and stinking galleys.
At last his company was told their destination and for two days there was a hustle and bustle to get everything in readiness for combat and final letters home. Then came a change of orders--instead of Guadalcanal, they would go to New Zealand.
After 25 days on that pig boat, the sight of land looked mighty good to him and all the rest of the outfit.
At least when the ship ;was just entering the harbor there was nothing there but square red patches all over the hillside, no one knew what they could be and soon there were a few green squares here and there amongst the red. After about an hour the spots became roofs of houses. At last he was in the land of the Kiwi.
After staying in New Zealand for six weeks he sailed on December 26, 1942 for Guadalcanal and arrived there on January 4, 1942 to relieve the 8th Reg 2nd Div and serve with his outfit as mop up detail. They only spent six weeks there as the Island was secured. The ship went back to New Zealand where 90% of the men suffered from malaria. Eventually he was shipped to California.
He saw action in Japan as their ship shelled Okinawa and another town. Then he spent the rest of his career in Spokane, Washington.