April 14, 1924 (Norwalk, CT) – April 5, 1995 (unknown); 70 years old
Married to Stephania Skoczylas (1917-2003) on April 30, 1949, in New Canaan, CT
Two sons, Robert and William.
Last local address: 55 Belden Avenue and 29 Saddle Road
Enlisted on April 15, 1942 (one day after his 18th birthday)
Serial number 11066119
Unit: 1st Infantry Division, 5th Infantry Regiment, Field Artillery
Born to Charles J. Smith (1892-1977) and Florence M. Peet Smith (1899-1992). One sister, Florence Smith Houghtaling Henkel (1921-2018), and one brother Charles (1933-).
Awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart Medal.
Caption for the picture below: “Doughnuts and coffee in Normandy. Private Walter G. Smith of Norwalk, Connecticut, receives his first doughnuts and coffee at an American Red Cross clubmobile in Normandy. The smiling server is Birnelyn Seymour.” (WEBMASTER NOTE: Birnelyn Seymour spent 25 months overseas during the war working with the Red Cross. She died in 2011 at 94 years old.)
From The Norwalk Hour June 30, 1943
Private Walter G. Smith, son of Fire Inspector Charles J. and Mrs. Florence Smith, writes of some of his experiences in North Africa. In a recent letter to his people, he states: “I guess you know now the fighting is all finished as far as North Africa is concerned, and are we happy. We were six months up at the front and this time we were shelled, dive-bombed from two to six times a day, also machine gunned. We had to sweat it out day and night and slept in foxholes or mud sometimes, just any place we threw our bodies. It’s hard to sleep at night when German planes are dropping flares trying to find you. I can’t write on paper or describe to you any feeling that can compare to it. We have been in on a major campaign and five battles. We stayed in one place on the front for 56 days and then went to other parts of it. We were also in a hell of a tank battle with plenty of German tanks. Some of the places we have been in are El Guettar, Mateur, Gafsa, Madjez-el-bab (NOTE: all are in Tunisia).” Private Smith enlisted in April 1942, on his 18th birthday. He received his basic training at Fort Bragg and in August went to England with the First Division Field Artillery, a division made famous during the first World War. They arrived in North Africa in November 1942. Private Smith writes he is now resting and enjoying himself catching up on all the movies he has missed. He says the food is swell and they can go swimming every day. He hopes to see everyone soon.
From The Norwalk Hour August 23, 1944
PVT WALTER SMITH GETS PURPLE HEART
Private Walter G. Smith, 20-year-old veteran of the famous First Division, has received the Purple Heart according to a letter received yesterday by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles J. Smith of 55 Belden Avenue. Fragments of a bomb pierced his leg but he is now fully recovered and back in the field. Private Smith has seen much action in the invasion of Africa, Sicily, and now France. He enlisted in April 1942 and received his basic training for the Field Artillery in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was employed by Segal Lock before his enlistment. A souvenir of a German Flag about 6×4 feet with an iron cross on it was received by his parents last week.
From The Norwalk Hour January 11, 1945
SGT W.G. SMITH GETS BRONZE STAR MEDAL
Technical Sergeant Walter G. Smith, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Smith of 55 Belden Avenue, now somewhere in Germany, has received a citation for the Bronze Star Medal. The citation reads as follows:
“For heroic achievement in connection with military operations against the enemy in the vicinity of St. Laurent-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, June 6, 1944. Although constantly subjected to heavy artillery, mortar, and small-arms fire, Private Smith, as scout and messenger, repeatedly located enemy gun positions and assisted in maintaining vital communications, thereby enabling artillery to silence numerous strong-points. Private Smith’s courage and skill greatly influenced the success of the invasion. Residence at enlistment: Norwalk, Connecticut.“
Technical Sergeant Smith is in the famous First Division and has participated in the invasions of Africa, Sicily, and France. He has been overseas for two years and was recently promoted to his present rank. Sgt Smith also forwarded to his parents not long ago, the Purple Heart which he received for shrapnel wounds suffered during the invasion of Normandy. Before entering the service, Sgt Smith was employed by Segal Lock Company.
From The Norwalk Hour, unknown date
NORWALK – Walter G. Smith of Barefoot Bay, Florida, a retired Norwalk firefighter and decorated World War II veteran, died Wednesday at home. The husband of Stephanie “Tess” Skoczylas Smith, was 71. Mr. Smith of 700 Marlin Circle, Barefoot Bay, Florida, served with the Norwalk Fire Department for 33 years until his retirement in July 1978. “He was a very courageous firefighter who was an inspiration to the younger guys,”: Assistant Fire Chief Alfred Morton said today. “He never hung back; he was always first in the building.” Morton joined the department a few years after Smith and worked with him while assigned to Platoon 2 at Broad River and east NOrwalk. “All the younger guys looked up to him,” Morton said. Mr. Smith was just as good a cook as he was a firefighter, the assistant chief noted. “He generally did the cooking wherever he was stationed. We all enjoyed his meals. He put out a great roast beef dinner with Yorkshire pudding. He was so good, in fact, that he had a catering business for a time.” Mr. Smith was the son of the late retired Deputy Fire Chief Charles J. Smith Sr., who served 40 years with the department, and Florence Peet Smith. He was the brother of retired Deputy Fire Chief Charles J. Smith Jr., who retired in 1992 after 35 years, giving the family a total of 108 years of service. The Norwalk native grew up at 55 Belden Avenue, where Route 7 now crosses it, and had lived at 29 Saddle Road until moving to Florida nine years ago. A graduate of St. Mary School, he attended Norwalk High School until joining the service early in World War II. Assigned to the “Big Red One” 1st Division, he participated in the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Omaha Beach in Normandy, France with the division’s 32nd Field Artillery. He always remembered his first day of battle in North Africa as if it were the day before. He served as a forward liaison observer maintaining contact between units of the 3rd Battalion in the 18th Regimental Combat Team. He survived eight major battles and earned as many battle stars to go with his campaign ribbons before being wounded by shrapnel in Germany’s Hurtgen Forest toward the end of the war. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for exceptional valor but returned to action before V.E. Day. The flags at all Norwalk firehouses were lowered to half-staff today. Mr. Smith had been a member and past president of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Number 588. He was a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. Also surviving are two sons, Robert Smith of Redding and William Smith of Barefoot Bay; a brother, retired Deputy Fire Chief Charles J. “Bud” Smith Jr. of Norwalk; a sister Florence S. Houghtaling of Redding; a granddaughter and several nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held Saturday. The interment will take place in Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida. A memorial Mass of Christian burial will be held at 9 a.m., April 22, in St. Thomas, the Apostle Church with Monsignor William J. Scheyd, pastor, officiating.
Florida National Cemetery, 6502 SW 102nd Ave, Bushnell, Florida; Section 310, Site 230. Photo from findagrave.com.