Smith, Theodore R., Sgt

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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 611-Aerial Gunner
Last AFSC Group
Air Crew (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1945-1945, AAF MOS 611, 427th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
Service Years
1944 - 1945
USAAFEnlisted Collar Insignia

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by CMSgt Don Skinner-Deceased to remember Smith, Theodore R., Sgt.

If you knew or served with this Airman and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Casualty Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
427th Bomb Squadron
Molesworth, England

Casualty Date
Apr 17, 1945
Hostile, Died while Missing
Intentional Homicide
World War II
Location of Interment
Woodlawn National Cemetery - Elmira, New York
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Plot G, Site 4869

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
World War II Fallen
  1945, World War II Fallen

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 Ribbon Bar

Aerial Gunner Badge

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)303rd Bombardment Group, Heavy427th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
  1944-1945, United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)
  1945-1945, AAF MOS 611, 303rd Bombardment Group, Heavy
  1945-1945, AAF MOS 611, 427th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1945-1945 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Central Europe Campaign (1945)
 My Aircraft/Missiles
B-17 Flying Fortress  
  1945-1945, B-17 Flying Fortress
 Additional Information

Last Known Activity
Theodore R. Smith was born in Pennsylvania on November 5, 1925 as a son to Theodore and Elizabeth Smith. Both the US Censeses 1930 and 1940 show the family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

He was inducted into the military on January 17, 1944 at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. His NARA enlistment record states he had completed 4 years of high school, but gives no civilian employment.

He was trained as an aerial gunner, and in March, 1945, deployed to England where he was assigned to the combat crew of Lt. Barr as a waist gunner. (In time, crew manning was reduced to 8 from 10 as waist gunners were dropped from the crews.)

Smith flew three missions, two with the Barr crew as tail gun. He was a substitute on the Kahler crew for the mission of April 17, 19545. THe designated target was the marshalling yards at Dresden, Germany. Over the target, flak was intense and accurate.

The aircraft had to make three bomb runs before all ordnance was depleted. Just after this, a flak shell hit the aircraft's right wing, setting the gas tank on fire. Fire rapidly streamed throughout the aircraft as it skidded out of formation and exploded. Wreckage fell near Dresden.

All of the crew members managed to make successful parachute landings, although Smith and Kahler were captured by angry civilians. He and Lt Kahler were killed by these civilians, with their bodies supposedly strung up from a tree. The official German report states that Lt. Kahler died from severe wounds suffered in the explosion, and that Smith died when his parachute only partially opened. The two dead men were buried in a local cemetery.

After the war, Smith's body was retrieved by Allied forces and sent to the U.S. for burial. He lies in the Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira, New York in Plot G, Site 4869. crews
US Census 1930
US Census 1940


Sgt Theodore R. Smith was a substitute tail gunner on B-17G # 43-37597, nicknamed "Earthquake McGoon," assigned to the 427th Bomb Squadron.

Missing Air Crew Report 14169 covers this aircraft/crew loss. Mission loading lists show the crew as:

2 Lt Thomas F. Kahler  p
2 Lt Lewis Cotton  c-p
Sgt Richard Bowler  nav
SSgt Richard T. Fogarty  tog
SSgt Lloyd Lowery  eng/tt gun
SSgt Leslie L. Litz  r/o
SSgt William A. Broughton  btg
Sgt Theodore R. Smith  tail gun

No waist gunner assigned.

Bowler completed navigator training, but missed the final exam, so washed out. He went to gunnery school in Arizona and later to the Kahler crew as tail gunner. He was checked out by Squadron Navigation Officer, and assigned as navigator for this mission.

Ranks and grades as of mission date.

In the Barr crew photo, Smith is in the front row, at left.

Service photo source:

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