|Captain Donald Smith's first wartime mission was the famous Doolittle Tokyo Raid.|
Donald Gregory Smith never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.
He was born on January 15, 1918 in South Dakota. His father was born in Michigan and his mother was born in Colorado. His father worked as a veterinarian. Donald was an only child. He may have been adopted because he was not listed on the family's 1920 census records. By 1940 Donald was completing his final year at the University of South Dakota.
He became a flying cadet in July 1940. He completed flight training in March 1941 and joined the 17th Bomb Group as a first lieutenant. In June 1941 Donald married Marie Crouch. They had one daughter born in July 1942.
In September 1941 the 17th BG received the first B-25s and Donald became a Mitchell pilot. In February 1942 Donald volunteered for an unspecified hazardous mission which turned out to be the famous Doolittle Tokyo Raid. Lt. Smith piloted one of the sixteen B-25s that took off from the carrier USS Hornet on April 18, 1942. After dropping its bombs on an aircraft factory and docks at Kobe, Japan, Lt Smith's plane TNT ditched at sea near Changsu, China. His crew escaped with the aid of local Chinese who disguised them as Chinese fishermen. Lt. Smith was award the Distinguished Flying Cross for this mission.
After returning to the states Donald became a captain in the 439th Bombardment Squadron, 319th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force. This unit was equipped with B-26 Marauders. In November 1942, the 319th BG was operating in North Africa. Captain Smith was in a plane crash and died of injuries on November 12, 1942.
His grave is at Pine Slope Cemetery, Belle Fourche, South Dakota. I don't know what happened to his widow or daughter.
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