James G. Smith was born in Minnesota in 1909. Prior to enlisting, James was co-owner/operator of the Goal Line which sold beverages and was located at 1506 E. Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis and his wife Melba worked at the Red Owl Store at 900 North 4th Street. His parents worked at Greenwood Lodge in McGregor, Minnesota, in the summers. At March 1942 at the age of 32, James enlisted in the Army. His battalion left for Europe in early March of 1944.
He spent more of his military career as a Technical Sergeant with the 519th AAA Gun Battalion. He received bronze stars for service in the France campaign at Normandy (Utah Beach), German campaign at Rhineland, and in the Belgium campaign at the Battle of the Bulge. In May of 1945, he was promoted to 1st Sergeant and was stationed at one of the largest prisoner of war camps on the continent. He had two noncombat injuries during his military career, one of which was serious injuries from a jeep accident that resulted in hospitalization in France. He returned to the United States in October of 1945.
The James G. Smith Collection is a collection of World War II correspondence and photographs organized chronologically. It documents a US soldier's life during World War II, beginning as an enlistee in the US Army in March 1942 to his being shipped back to the US and released from duty in October 1945. Included are letters to his wife and parents documenting his responses to their letters and detailing his everyday life and concerns while being acutely aware of the need to censor his letters for privacy and national security concerns. Also included are personal photographs from his time in the military. Collection also contains biographical information, and each box in the collection also contains detailed container lists.
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