Dr. Joe C. Smith MD (pictured), a graduate of Baylor Medical School in Houston and retired from a longtime successful family practice in Caldwell, is an 89-year-old World War II Marine lieutenant veteran of the Allies campaign on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Smith received a Purple Heart, surviving a bullet in the chin from enemy fire there. A fellow soldier right next to him was killed. General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., commander of the Tenth Army, which conducted the amphibious assault on Okinawa, also died 50 yards from Smith as a result of enemy artillery fire. For service in China shortly thereafter, Smith received a Bronze Star.
This spring, Dr. Smith visited the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg with his son, Texas Highways photo editor Griff Smith.
Dr. Smith’s recollections of the war were poignant, powerful, and perceptive; his thoughts on the museum and his recent visit were glowing and positive, and he recommended it to one and all. “A really magnificent place. The displays are marvelous. It also explains the period before the war and reasons for the war … I think it’s a seminal exhibition for teachers and their students, as well as everyone else, whether they’re passionate about history or not … My visit was very gratifying. I recommend the museum highly. It’s extremely well done, and fascinating to see what they’ve put together … I believe Admiral Nimitz and General Vandergriff were both geniuses … Thanks to the G.I. Bill, I was able to finish college and medical school.”
We sincerely thank Dr. Smith and veterans everywhere for their service, bravery, and sacrifice.
See the feature on Fredericksburg’s National Museum of the Pacific War in the July 2010 issue of Texas Highways.