William David SmithSpecialist Four
F TRP, 1ST SQD, 9TH CAV RGT, 1 CAV DIV
Army of the United States
20 September 1950 - 24 March 1971
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The database page for William David Smith
Billy...How do you compile and sort out memories, so clear and so vivid as if they happened a few moments ago, of a brother whose name is now engraved on a black granite wall in Washington and on a rose granite tombstone in Louisiana?
He was my childhood friend who would play with me and keep me company when the neighborhood kids made fun of my new glasses. I cherished his compassion. How proud I was of him when he built his racer and competed in the All-American Soap Box Derby. And he almost won, too, coming in second place in Akron, Ohio, and winning a $5,000 scholarship. He baked me a birthday cake for my 20th birthday, all fluffy white icing, with coconut (his favorite) and brought it to my apartment as a surprise. When my beloved dog died, he held a funeral and buried her for me. His heart was big and his loyalty strong. That last day together before he went to war, I put my arms around his thin waist as we flew down the beach on his motorcycle, not noticing that my ankle was being burned badly by his exhaust pipe. I wish that I could have held onto him much longer, I loved him so.
When Billy's body came home to rest, a friend of mine from LSU came to play his guitar and sing a song at his funeral. The song had been written and performed on television in the dark days following President John F. Kennedy's assassination. I had remembered it and asked that my friend perform it as a memorial to my brother. A misguided Baptist minister refused to allow it, saying he would not have a guitar or a "communist" song played in "his" church. It was such a small thing that hurt me deeply.
So now, 31 years later, I can finally give this song as a tribute to the brother I honor here, and for all who knew his kindness and strength.
I would be grateful if anyone who witnessed his crash
or who knew him, would contact me.
Let the healing begin.
Two men of F Troop, 1st of the 9th Cavalry, died in the crash of their OH-6A LOACH (hull number 68-17322):
In addition to the Silver Star, Billy received other decorations and awards:
"On 24 March 1971, WO1 Steven M. Larrabee was the pilot in command of an F Troop OH-6A which was acting as the scout aircraft on a "Sniffer" mission in the Tinh Long Khanh Province (near FSB Silver YT 829-043). The time of day was 1100 hours, the weather was clearing after a morning rain shower, and the terrain was gently rolling hills with 150' to 200' trees. The mission was being run independently of any friendly troops in the area of interest.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 08/10/2009