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November 8, 2013

Putting a face on one who served


The last time I saw David was on 7 Dec. ‘41, Pearl Harbor day. We each had dates that worked in Bloomington and were home for the weekend. The state highway was through the Crane area at that time. We had heard about Pearl Harbor; no problem going to Bloomington at 6 p.m.; but returning about midnight was different.

Upon arriving at the Burns City gate, it was closed. Two Marines, on horses and with guns at the ready angle, were guarding it. They were nervous; so was I. “How did you get in here?” David answered, “from Bloomington, on the state highway to here.” “No, you didn’t, the Bloomington gate is closed.” They held us for about an hour (a long hour for Dave and I) before releasing us. Someone had been slow in closing the Bloomington gate.

David returned to Gary, Ind., the following week, quit his job and volunteered for the Air Force. After cadet training he received his appointment as an officer, lieutenant, and received an emblem of wings as pilot of a fighter plane. Instead of going overseas to fight Germans, as he had hoped, he had excelled in cadet training; he was selected to train cadets in Florida.

He was killed on 7 Dec. ‘43, exactly two years after Pearl Harbor and our trip to and from Bloomington. A trainee in a separate plane, with communication between his and David’s plane, made a fatal mistake. Both David and the trainee were killed.

David was the son of Russell and Hazel (Wadsworth) Smith.

Fred A. Overton


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