Maynard Harrison Smith, Sr.
Sergeant, United States Army Air Corps
at Caro, Michigan, May 19, 1911, he earned the Medal of Honorduring World
War II while serving with the 423rd Bombardment Squadron over Europe on
May 1, 1943.
It should be noted that his case illustrates that the awarding of the Medal of Honor in the Air Corps in World War II was completely divorced from the promotion policies. In fact, it seemed to have been part of a demotion policy in his case.
He flew his first mission on May 1, 1943, over Saint-Nazaire, France. With the plane afire, he managed to render first aid to the wounded crewmen, man machine-guns and throw exploding ammunition overboard. Escaping oxygen made the fire so hot that the radio, gun mount and camera melted and ammunition began to explode. He stayed at his post and put out the fire. For this he was awarded the Medal of Honor. After four more combat missions, he was ordered before a medical board and found to be suffering from "operational exhaustion." The rigors of his first mission apparently had been too much for him. He was reassigned to a non combat clerical post and reduced in rank to Private. He was still a Private when he was discharged on May 26, 1945. This seemed a peculiar situation and would have been unthinkable for an officer winner to be reduced in rank because he suddenly became inflicted with "operational exhaustion" after winning the Medal of Honor.
He died on May 11, 1984 and was buried in Section
66 of Arlington National Cemetery.
Rank and organization. Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Corps, 423d Bombardment Squadron, 306th Bomber Group. Place and date: Over Europe, 1 May 1943. Entered service at: Caro, Michigan. Born: 1911, Caro Michigan. G.O. No.: 38, 12 July 1943.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in
action above and beyond the call of duty. The aircraft of which Sgt. Smith
was a gunner was subjected to intense enemy antiaircraft fire and determined
fighter airplane attacks while returning from a
Photo courtesy of Raymond L. Collins
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