LTC (ret) Gordon Kenneth Smith passed away September 21,
2009 in San Antonio, TX. He was born July 2, 1915 in Waukesha, WI.
Gordon earned his BS at the University of Wisconsin and then
entered the U.S. Army in 1938 joining the Paratroopers earning his
Master Wings. He was the last surviving member of the original 82nd
Airborne 507th PIR Command.
His assignments were with the 501st PB, 507th PIR, 325th AIR, and
the 511th PIR. He also had tours of duty in Venezuela, Korea and several
He jumped into Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, was wounded and
captured. His last assignment was Chief Instructor of ROTC at LSU.
Gordon received the French Legion d'honneur, Bronze Star, Purple
Heart and the French Croix du Guerre.
He loved golfing, gardening and cooking. He was preceded in death
by his wife of 64 years, Martha LeBleu Smith and his parents Edwin and
Jennie Lewis Smith. Survived by his children: Sandra Rodgers, Margo
Shallcross, Mark Smith, Jilray Launay, and 10 Grandchildren and 7
Memorial Service Oct. 1st at 4 PM, Spring Hill Event Center, 2455
Celebration Drive, San Antonio, TX. Funeral Service Oct. 5th. at 1 PM,
Masonic Service at 1:30 PM with full Military Honors at Resthaven
Gardens of Memory, 11817 Jefferson Highway, Baton Rouge, LA. In lieu of
flowers donations may be made to the Disabled American Veteran's.
(San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio, TX, 27 Sep 2009, Page 5B)
Gordon enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1939.
On December 23, 1941 (perhaps spurred by the attack on Pearl Harbor 16
days earlier) and still a Private, Gordon re-upped while posted at
Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. During that second hitch he
was sent to OCS and began a meteoric rise. He was an early volunteer for
parachutist duty and became the 501st Parachute Battalion C.O.
By D-Day, Gordon was a Major in the 507th PIR, 82nd Airborne
Division, when he parachuted into Normandy. He was wounded that
same day and became a prisoner of war. He was sent to Stalag 4F and its
Work Camps in Hartmannsdorf-Chemnitz in the Saxony region of Germany.
The camp was about 45 miles SSW of Dresden.
Major Smith was liberated from the POW camp on June 21, 1945 .
He remained in the Army, serving for thirty years. His decorations
included the Bronze Star Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart,
POW Medal. French Croix de Guerre with Gold Star, and other medals, He
also received the French Legion of Honor, in June 2009.
During his service, he was not only in the 501st and 507th where he
served as S-4, he was also assigned to the Panama Caribbean Defense
Command, was an 84th Airborne Instructor and as XO then CO of the
He served in Korea with the United Nations POW COM, 38th Infantry 2nd
Infantry Division, then 508th 1st Battalion CO, and XO of the 511th
Airborne Infantry Regiment. Returning to Fort Benning as Chief of
Training ABN/Air Mobility Department, he was sent to Venezuela as
Airborne Advisor to the AF of Venezuela, transferred to Panama as Chief
OP and Divisional G-4 (later J-3) then to HQ Caribbean COM then Project
Officer for joint combined exercises in Central and South America.
One of his last postings was as Chief Instructor ROTC, Louisiana State
University.. Gordon retired in 1969.