Pottawattamie County

Charles H. Smith



Local Youth in Seven Major Battles

To Gunner’s Mate 2/c Charles H. Smith, 21, of the navy, coming home to Council Bluffs on a furlough this time of the year is just like a visit to the north pole.

 “It’s too cold,” he remarked Wednesday afternoon. “After spending 16 months in the Pacific war zone where it’s warm, I guess I just became used to it and I can’t take this Iowa winter weather.”

What probably helped Charles to keep warm was the seven major engagements in which he participated, including the landing of the army in Guadalcanal. He wears the campaign ribbon and a star for each engagement.

The son of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph L. Smith, 246 North Second street, Charles is a member of the crew of a naval vessel, holder of two presidential citations, for heroic work in battle and rescue work done during the sinking of the U. S. S. Helena in the battle of Kula gulf last July 6.

Rescued Schoolmate.

One of the first things that Charles learned on coming home was that he helped to rescue a former schoolmate although he didn’t know it at the time. He was Coxswain Paul L. Benson, son of Mr. and Mrs. M. E. Benson, 108 Benton street, member of the Helena crew at the time of the sinking.

His ship did not restrict its activities to rescue work. During the engagement it sank a Jap cruiser and two destroyers.

Birthday Lasted 48 Hours.

The most amusing thing to Charles while in the vicinity of the Gilbert and Solomon islands was the fact that his birthday lasted 48 hours.

“On Nov. 21 I was 21 years old,” he said. “Then we crossed the international date line and that threw us back to Nov. 20, so I had another birthday coming right up. But that incident cost me money. I lost a day’s pay.”

A member of the navy for four years, Charles had spent approximately three years of the time outside the states, having been in both the Atlantic and Pacific.

Charles has two brothers also serving in the navy. They are Aviation Radio Technician 1/c Ralph l. Smith, jr., and Gunner’s mate 3/c Robert G. Smith. Their father is a veteran of the first war and he celebrated is twenty-first birthday in France.

Source: The Council Bluffs Nonpareil, Council Bluffs, Thursday, January 06, 1944, Page 6