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Robert Burr Smith

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Robert Burr Smith
Nickname(s)Smitty
Born(1924-05-02)2 May 1924
Tacoma, Washington, United States
Died7 January 1983(1983-01-07) (aged 58)
San Diego, California, United States
Resting place
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1942–1945
1955-1964 (Reserves)
RankUS-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel
UnitUS 101st Airborne Division patch.svg 101st Airborne Division
91st Infantry Division
12th Special Forces Group
1st SFOD-D
Battles/warsWorld War II Vietnam War
Laotian Civil War
Operation Eagle Claw
Other workCIA officer

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Burr Smith (2 May 1924 - 7 January 1983) was a United States Army officer. He served in Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division during World War II. Smith was one of the 140 Toccoa men of Easy Company. A memorial to Smith by his daughter, C. Susan Finn, appeared in the 2009 book We Who Are Alive and Remain: Untold Stories from Band of Brothers.

Youth[edit | edit source]

Smith was born in 2 May 1924 in Tacoma, Washington. His family moved to Los Angeles when he was seven.[1] Smith was sent by his grandmother to Brown Military Academy in Pacific Beach, California because he acted as German soldiers and yelled 'Heil Hilter!' for fun with his friend.[2]

Military service[edit | edit source]

Smith enlisted in the army at Rochester, New York on 18 August 1942 and volunteered for paratroopers.[3] He was sent to Toccoa, Georgia for training and befriended Warren 'Skip' Muck and Donald Malarkey. William Guarnere in his biography said that Smith 'was a nice boy, so you blamed him for the devilment, because nobody believe it'.[4]

Smith made his first combat jump on D-Day into Normandy. He was originally with Plane 66, but was transferred out of the plane by Richard Winters right before it took off as it was overcrowded.[5] Plane 66 was later shot down by German artillery, killing everyone on board. Smith landed in an apple orchard in Normandy. He and other E Company men engaged in a minor firefight with some Germans. They joined with Easy Company at dawn.[6] Smith was later wounded in Carentan.

Smith also fought in Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. In 13 January 1945, Smith was wounded in Foy, Belgium and was evacuated to the hospital.[7] He met Perconte and Malarkey and the three rejoined Easy Company in Germany before the end of the war.[8]

Later years[edit | edit source]

After the war, Smith returned to Los Angeles. He married Mary Jane Shores on 17 May 1946.[9] The couple had three children. He became a lithographer by trade.[citation needed] Smith stayed active in the Army Reserves and rose to major.[10]

In March 1954, Smith was in Laos with the Central Intelligence Agency.[11]

In the 1960s, Smith trained and qualified for Special Forces.[12] He was then recruited by the CIA to be a paramilitary specialist for action in Laos during the Vietnam War.[13] He continued to perform his Army Reserve duties at this period and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.[14] Smith returned to the States in 1974 and became the CIA liaison officer to the Delta Force.[15] In 1980, Smith either participated in the failed mission to free American hostages in the US embassy in Tehran, Iran[16] or was denied permission to go because of the amount of classified information to which he had access.[17]

Smith retired from the CIA after a hang gliding accident.[18] He was later diagnosed with lung cancer. He died in 7 January 1983.[19]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. p.251, Brotherton
  2. p.251, Brotherton
  3. p.251, Brotherton
  4. Location 743, Guarnere
  5. p. 79,Winters
  6. p.254, Brotherton
  7. p.254, Brotherton
  8. Location 2721, Malarkey
  9. "California, County Marriages, 1850-1952," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8KW-38G : 28 November 2014), Robert Burr Smith and Mary Jane Shores, 17 May 1946; citing Los Angeles, California, United States, county courthouses, California; FHL microfilm 2,115,535
  10. p.255, Brotherton
  11. Ooms, Ronald (2013). Silver Eagle: The Official Biography of Band of Brothers Veteran Clancy Lyall. United Kingdom: Pneuma Springs Publishing. p. 136. ISBN 9781782282648. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  12. p.255, Brotherton
  13. p.255, Brotherton
  14. p.256, Brotherton
  15. p.257, Brotherton
  16. p.257, Brotherton
  17. Ambrose, Stephen E. (1992). Band of Brothers. New York, New York: Touchstone. p. 308. ISBN 0671867369.
  18. p.257, Brotherton
  19. "California Death Index, 1940-1997," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPZX-WPP : 26 November 2014); Department of Public Health Services, Sacramento


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Others articles of the Topics United States Army AND World War II : Amos J. Taylor, Albert Blithe, Clancy Lyall, Edwin Pepping

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Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Ambrose, Stephen E. (1992). Band of Brothers: Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7434-6411-6.
  • Robyn Post, William Guarnere & Edward Heffron (2008). Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends). Berkley Trade. ISBN 0425224368.
  • Winters, Major Dick, with Cole C. Kingseed. Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Sgt Don Malarkey & Bob Welch (2009). Easy Company Soldier, the Legendary Battles of a Sergeant From World War II's "Band of Brothers". St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 978-0-312-56323-3.


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