AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive
Re: Leonard "Smitty" Smith
In Response To: Re: Leonard "Smitty" Smith ()
Dear Lee and Art:
Thank you so much for your kind words. My grief and loss continues.
I am still trying to contact all of the friends who loved him. I just spoke with Joelle the wife of Daniel in Paris. Daniel never came to the phone. Losing Smitty must be too much for him to speak with me now. Smitty became Daniel's surrogate father when Daniel came to America searching for his black birth father in Harlem. The circumstances around their first meeting during the filming of "Mon Pere Etait un GI a la Liberation" was posted in an earlier message on this board.
I have been so blessed in knowing the men of the 761st Tank Battalion like Smitty, McBurney and Prescott.
I've also been blessed in growing up surrounded by African American military men. I knew what itís like to have so many positive black male role models in my life. America's first Four Star General "Chappie" James and Commander in Chief of NORAD was a childhood friend of my father. Army friends like Col. Jack Jackson and Chaplain "Chappie" Fisher were fiercely proud of their service in the military both here and abroad.
The Afrigeneas Military Forum sometimes gets messages from skeptics questioning why such an allegiance to a country that enslaved them? My response is why not? We've been here longer than most "Americans". Whether our ancestors were enslaved or free, they shaped and defended this country for over five centuries. Most importantly, people forget that through the centuries African-Americans had to fight for the rights of citizenship...the right to vote, access to a good education and the right to fight for this country.... our country.
Smitty and his comrades faced the indignity of racism before, during and after World War II. The world should never forget them. If it weren't for brave men like Smitty there would be millions of people in Europe and the South Pacific who wouldn't be reading my words.
I will write more about my dear Smitty, but on the Afrigeneas Writers Forum. In the meantime, if you want to know more about him, you can click on the url below. It will take you to the Random House Publisher's site. You'll find an excerpt from the book in the words of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar describing his mentor Leonard "Smitty" Smith. His book, "Brothers in Arms" is about Smitty, McBurney, and Prescott, three young men who went off to war and were instrumental in defeating the SS Panzers at the Battle of the Bulge.
My men "didn't play."
Please keep all of them in your hearts,
K Wyer Lane