John D. Smith

Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps


Company A
1st Battalion
5th Marines
3rd Marine Division
Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: August 11, 1966
Buried at: 
Green Creek Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery 
                  Green Creek
                  Cape May County, New Jersey
Awards: Purple Heart

JOHN DAVID SMITH was born on October 4, 1941. His home of record is Camden, NJ.

John D. Smith enlisted in the US Army, and after serving, was unable to find a job, so he re-enlisted in the US Marine Corps, where he attained the rank of Sergeant. On August 11, 1966, Sergeant Smith was killed in action in South Vietnam, Quang Tin Province. He was 25 years old.

Remembering John David Smith

We lived on West Avenue in Pitman, NJ, most of our lives. When Dave, as we called him, was born, he was just about 5 lbs., a tiny dark curly headed wiggly, 17Ē long bundle. Born in an upstairs front bedroom on October 4, 1941, he was so active and ornery! When he got into things, he smiled and laughed. He was so loving! When he cried, you knew something was really wrong. He did all the usual things boys do. He was surrounded by seven sisters and two brothers, each one special. He loved hide and seek. Dave would cover his eyes and think we couldnít see him. He played tricks on all of us and his friends. We loved it!

One of the neighbors gave him a pair of cowboy boots. He must have been three or four years old. He loved those boots! He would sleep with them still on, and if he did take them off, he put them under his pillow.

When Dave was only four or five years old, Dave was involved in a terrible accident. Mom was washing clothes in the kitchen. We had an old easy wringer washer with two large tubs for rinsing. He was in the helping stage, so he asked if he could help. Mom told him he was too little and told him to play with his toys in the other room. When she took a basket of clothes out to hang on the line, she heard him screaming! She and a neighbor came running. Daveís arm was caught in the wringer up to his shoulder. Needless to say, his arm was crushed. It took over 100 stitches to close the wounds and reattach the muscle. His arm never grew like the other one. It was four inches shorter. This didnít keep Dave from doing the things he loved to do. He played football and baseball. He exercised that arm and it was very strong!

When he was ten or eleven, he loved to take things apart. He also took other kidsí bikes apart! He always rolled one pant leg up to the knee. He never owned a bike of his own, but he looked like he was ready to ride one at a moments notice!

He joined the US Army and spent time in Germany in the Tank Corps. When he came home, there were no jobs available for an experienced tank driver, so he re-enlisted in the US Marines Corps. He trained at Camp Lejeune, Parris Island, and was assigned to Vietnam.

He loved being home on leave at our house. My husband, Bob, Dave and I enjoyed each otherís company. We stayed up late remembering old times as kids. Some of the memories made us laugh, others made us cry. I left Bob and Dave giggling like school kids. They were trying to catch a mouse. They had a cigar box, string attached to two sticks, some peanut butter and a cracker. I heard the box drop several times, but never knew if they caught it.

On the drive to the Philadelphia Airport, Dave reminded me he didnít want a scene. So he held my hand all the way to the car. When he boarded, we hugged and I kissed his cheek. I didnít cry until he left, but my arms ached to hug him. I never saw him again.

I did receive many letters from him, even months after he died. It felt odd. All of our siblings were close. We each have memories of Dave that we cherish and they are better left in our hearts. It keeps him closer to us. We will never forget Dave, and we appreciate the opportunity to share his life with others.

Joyce Hammel, Sister

John D. Smith
is honored on Panel 9E Line 128 of
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.