Harry A. Smith (1923-2012), nose gunner on a 14th Air Force B24 Liberator bomber, was a member of a crew that bailed out of a lost aircraft over China and trekked some 800 miles to safety over a several week period in 1944.
Born in Cranston in March 1923, he attended Central High School in Providence and enlisted in the Air Corps in 1942. He attended aerial gunnery school at Tyndall Field, Florida, followed by training at the Flexible Gunnery school in Laredo, Texas. He then went to Lowry Air Field near Denver for the armorer’s course, where he learned basic maintenance on all aerial guns, up to 37mm.
Smith was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for “extraordinary achievement in aerial flight”, participating in more than 200 hours of combat flying as an aerial gunner from bases in China between December 1943 and August 1944. His discharge record identifies service in New Guinea, India and Burma in addition to China. He also earned multiple Air Medals and campaign decorations. A welder by trade, he died in Pennsylvania in 2012.
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