Elwin Edward Smith
Elwin Edward Smith,
Field Music Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, 00289521,
United States Marine Corps.
Entered the Service from Missouri. Died: May 8, 1942.
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea.
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. Awards: Purple Heart. (ABMC, CCVM, DJHSP)
The Western Star, Friday, June 19, 1942.
ELWIN E. SMITH KILLED IN ACTION
Is First Known Casualty From Coldwater in World War II.
Last Sunday morning Mr. and Mrs. Eads E. Smith of Coldwater received
word that their son, Elwin, had been killed in action on the aircraft
carrier Lexington in the Coral Sea on May 8.
Following is the telegram received from Washington, D. C.
"Deeply regret to inform you that your son, field musician corporal
Elwin Edward Smith, was killed in action in the performance of his duty
and in the service of his country. Present situation necessitates
interment temporarily in the locality where death occurred and you will
be notified accordingly. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy. Letter
follows. T. Holcomb, Lieut. General, U.S. Marine Corps the Commandant."
It was thought that Edwin's body was buried in Australia.
Edwin Edward Smith was born at Wilmore, Kans., Sept. 18, 1919, and at
the time of his death was 22 years, 8 months and 20 days of age. In 1928
he came to Coldwater with his parents and attended the Coldwater
schools, graduating with the class of 1937.
He then went to Kansas City and began work in the office of the Wolcott
& Lincoln Grain Co., which position he held until 1940. In august of
that year he enlisted in the Marine Corps, and after receiving training
at San Diego, Calif., was assigned to the Lexington as bugler, where he
continued to serve, with the exception of a furlough spent with home
folks last August.
He made an excellent record, was promoted last February to the rank of
field musician corporal and was in line for promotion to sergeant at the
time of his death. Among his duties on board ship was that of gunner on
the top deck and he was in the thick of enemy fire in the Gilbert and
Marshall Islands battle where 16 of 18 attacking planes were shot down,
as well as in two other sea battles before the battle of the Coral Sea.
In 1928 Elwin, together with the family, united with the Coldwater
Presbyterian church and was active in Christian Endeavor work here. When
he went to Kansas City he united with the Forest Avenue Baptist church
and was a leader among the young people of the church. He was elected
president of the B.Y.P.U. and when he left to join with the defenders of
our country he was presented by the church with an engraved plague
bearing the following inscription: "To Smitty in deep appreciation of
his fine Christian fellowship with young people of the Forest Avenue
Baptist church." While at San Diego he moved his membership to a Baptist
church there and attended services whenever possible. Elwin was a devout
Christian and by his example and words of help was instrumental in
leading a number of his buddies to accepting God's plan in life.
Elwin is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Smith of Coldwater,
by one sister, Mrs. Raymond Hamon of Houston, Texas, and by two
brothers, both in the armed forces - Air Corps Cadet Wm. J. Smith,
Randolph Field, Texas and Pvt. Rolland E. Smith, Radio School, U.S.
Marine Corps, San Diego, Calif., as well as by many other relatives and
a host of friends.
Elwin was one of Coldwater's finest young men and an example of
America's youth at it's best. His gallantry and heroic supreme sacrifice
for the sake of his beloved homeland will be an inspiration to others
for many years to come.
The sorrowing relatives have the sincere sympathy of all our people.
The Western Star , July 10, 1942
MEMORIAL SERVICE SUNDAY FOR ELWIN E. SMITH
A memorial service will be held at the Presbyterian church in this city
next Sunday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock in honor of Corp. Elwin E. Smith,
son of Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Smith of this city.
Elwin, who was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. had been assigned a
battle station at one of the anti-aircraft guns on the Lexington
aircraft carrier and was killed in action during the battle of the Coral
Sea, at which time the Lexington was sunk.
The service will be in charge of the pastor, Rev. Geo. H. DeBoer. The
American Legion and ex-service men will attend in a body and many of our
citizens will join in paying tribute to this fine young man - the first
Coldwater casualty of the present war.
The Western Star, July 17, 1942
A FINE MEMORIAL SERVICE
The Presbyterian church in this city was nearly filled last Sunday afternoon at the memorial service held for Elwin Smith, a marine who was among the causalities on the Lexington airplane carrier in the Coral Sea battle on May 8. Elwin is the son of Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Smith of this city. Miss Jane Stewart, a member of Elwin's graduating class in Coldwater high school, sang the "Marines Song" and Ward H. Butcher, former Boy Scout district chairman, told of the high ideals of Scouting, all of the attributes of which Elwin possessed.
A boy's quartet composed of Karl Ehrlich, J. P. Scholle, Calvin Arnold and Karl Seyfrit, sang "America The Beautiful." Rev. M. M. Anspaugh gave the American Legion's ceremonial tribute to a fallen hero, and Howard Sandberg played a cornet solo, "A Dream."
The pastor, Rev. Geo. H. DeBoer, who was in charge of the program, made a fine address on "Hallmarks of Heroism." His remarks and quotations from associates of Elwin in Kansas City brought out the sterling Christian character and gallant heroism which made Elwin's life an outstanding one. The American Legion attended in a body. The program was a most impressive one. Mrs. A. A. White presided at the organ.
The Western Star, August 21, 1942
COMMENDATION FOR BRAVERY in BATTLE
Elwin E. Smith of Coldwater Is Given Posthumous Award
Mr. and Mrs. Eads E. Smith of Coldwater recently received from the
commanding officer of the U.S.S. Lexington the following posthumous
commendation of their son, Elwin E. Smith, for outstanding devotion to
duty. Also a letter from Lt. Col. in the Marine Corps. accompanying the
commendation. The letter and commendation follow:
July 30, 1942.
My Dear Mrs. Smith:
I am directed by the Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps, to forward to you
the enclosed letter of Commendation, posthumously awarded your son, the
late Field Music Corporal Elwin E. Smith, U.S.M.C., by the Commanding
Officer of the U.S.S. LEXINGTON for courage and outstanding devotion to
duty during the battle of the Coral Sea, May 8, 1942.
The Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps. noted with gratification this gallant
conduct of your son.
A copy of the enclosed letter of commendation will be made a part of
your son's permanent record in this headquarters.
JOHN DIXON, Lieut. Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps.
From: The Commanding Officer.
To: Elwin E. Smith, Field Musician Corp.
Subject: Commendation For Outstanding Devotion to Duty. (Posthumous)
1. During the Battle of the Coral Sea, on May 8, 1942, he displayed
outstanding devotion to duty and courage as a member of the crew of the
U.S.S. Lexington. His fine conduct and the manner in which he performed
his duties, contributed greatly to the victory achieved by United States
naval forces in this battle.
2. As a member of the crew of Number Two Anti-Aircraft Battery he has
been commended by his superior officers as follows:
"They remained at their posts efficiently performing assigned duties
during strafing, explosions of four torpedoes in the near vicinity of
the battery, and after an aerial bomb had exploded and fired a locker of
heavy ammunition at the battery. They extinguished the fire, policed the
battery and readied the only remaining serviceable gun for further
defense of the ship. As a result of their actions they efficiently
assisted in the defense of the LEXINGTON by fast accurate fire under
extremely difficult circumstances, were quickly prepared for further
defense and thereby set an example of courage and devotion to the duty
of the highest order."
3. His loyal and courageous conduct are in accordance with the best
traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Battle of the Coral Sea, 7-8 May 1942 --
Overview and Special Image Selection
USS Lexington (CV-2, Originally CC-1), 1927-1942
The above news articles were transcribed for this site by Shirley Brier.
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World War II Casualties