SGT MAYNARD “ SNUFFY” H. SMITH
423d Bomb Sqdrn, 306th Bomber Grp.
Over Enemy Occupied Europe
1 May 1943.
While flying as gunner on a bombing mission over enemy-occupied continental Europe,
Sgt. Smith’s aircraft was riddled with FLAK shrapnel and cannon rounds from German defenders.
Fire swept through the crew compartment. Two of his fellow aircrew were seriously wounded, then the aircraft’s oxygen system was breached by an enemy cannon burst –fire swept through the cabin and vital control cables severed.
Intense fires were ignited in both the radio compartment and waist gunner sections forcing the 3 of the crew to bail out into the comparative safety of the sea.
Sgt. Smith, who was on his first combat mission, chose not to leave wounded men in the aircraft and fought the fire alone, going to the extreme putting one compartment fire out by urinating the flames. In between fighting fires and fighting the Germans, Snuffy Smith administered medical aid to his wounded tail gunner.
He manned both waist-guns alternately guns depending on which direction the attacking fighters were approaching. As soon as the fighters went by, Smith would return to fighting the fire until they returned.
The heat from burning oxygen was so intense that the ammunition in the radio compartment began to explode, the radio, gun mount, and camera were melted, and the compartment completely gutted.
At this point Sgt. Smith added throwing burning ammunition out of the aircraft to his routine of fighting fires, fighting Germans, administering medical aid and shooting waist guns.
Smith fought the fire until there was nothing left to fight it with, he manned his weapons until the enemy retreated, he cleared the aircraft of exploding ordinance and saving the lives of his brother crewmen by administering continual medical aid all through the fight.
The last line of Sgt. Smith’s Medal of Honor citation appropriately reads as follows.
“This soldier’s gallantry in action, undaunted bravery, and loyalty to his aircraft and fellow crewmembers, without regard for his own personal safety, is an inspiration to the U.S. Armed Forces.”
Sgt Maynard “Snuffy” Smith passed on May 11, 1984 (age 72). I’m pretty sure Michael and the aviation section did one hell of a fly-by when Sgt. Smith reported in at the Pearly Gates.