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.
Most weekends of the year, crowds flock to Fredericksburg to enjoy the Hill Country ambiance, shop along historic Main Street, or savor impromptu wine tastings. As they wander among the shops and galleries, many visitors may inadvertently miss one of the town’s jewels: The National Museum of the Pacific War.