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Carl Lissell Smith
Charleston Gazette, August 10, 1944

West Virginia Veterans Memorial


Carl Lissell Smith

"They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Carl Lissell Smith was born in Lincoln County, West Virginia, to Sherman and Lucy Van Gundy Smith on November 9, 1915.

At the time the 1920 Federal Census was taken, the family was found in the Jefferson District of Lincoln County. Mr. Smith was listed as a farmer. There were six children in the household: Cay, Vilet, Denie, Esta, Carrell, and Flucy. Carl Smith was known by his middle name, Lissell.

At the time of the 1930 census, the census taker found the family living in the Scott District of Boone County. There were still six children living at home (Esta, Denna, Carl, Flossie, Leona, and Jessie), but between the data from these two census years (noting inconsistencies in spelling of given names) and obituaries, there seem to have been eight children born to the couple. Carl Smith was known as "Carl" by this time, instead of "Lissell," which was later known as his middle name.

According to enlistment records, Carl Smith attended grammar school. He first joined the service in 1938, serving with Company A, 27th Infantry. He trained or was stationed in Fort Lewis, Washington; Fort Ord, California; Fort Missoula, Montana; and Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. He was discharged in May 1940. (Service Record Book of Men and Women of Madison, W. Va., and Community, Daniel Boone Post No. 5578 V.F.W., p. 82.)

Carl returned to West Virginia and worked at the Red Parrot Coal Mine. He married Clara Mae Hopper and lived in Bloomingrose, Boone County. He registered for service, again, on October 16, 1940, and enlisted on March 18, 1942, in Forth Thomas, Kentucky. He trained or served in Charleston, West Virginia; Fort Knox, Kentucky; Camp Claiborne, Louisiana; and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (Summary of information from Selective Service Registration Cards, WWII, available on Fold 3, accessed 11 May 2019, and Service Record Book of Men and Women of Madison, W. Va., and Community.) Camp Claiborne and Fort Bragg are especially well known as training grounds for the 82nd Airborne "All Americans," so nicknamed because its servicemen came from every state. ("82nd Airborne Division [In the Second World War]," 82nd Airborne Division, accessed 22 May 2019,

Carl Smith's date of embarkation was April 29, 1943. For his second round in the military, he served in Company G (Glider), 325th Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. With the 82nd Airborne, Carl Smith served in North Africa, Sicily, England, and Ireland before heading to Normandy on those fateful June days.

According to the website, The 82nd Airborne: World War II ("The 325th Glider Infantry Regiment Unit History," accessed 15 May 2019,

The 325th Glider Infantry Regiment was formed and given the task of arriving into battle by glider. Parachutes could, and often did, wind up scattered for miles on a drop zone. The same held true for equipment and supplies. The glider was the answer to all these problems. As long as a glider stayed in one piece, the items inside it would too. This meant no more searching through the swamp looking for the missing barrel to a Howitzer. Jeeps could also fit into a glider. Best of all, troops could be put into a glider and land as a coherent fighting unit.

Gliderborne assaults, however, were not without their risks. Gliders and their tow planes were slow, fat targets. They had no armor to protect the men inside. Landing in a glider was also an adventure and little more than a controlled crash. Even if the pilot had the time and altitude to select a good spot to land, conditions on the ground of which he might be totally ignorant could wreck a landing. Ditches, wire, fences, tree stumps or a host of other possible ailments could flip, twist, or gut an unfortunate glider.

According to the overview to The 82nd Airborne: World War II website, the 82nd left New England for Casablanca, landing in North Africa on May 10, 1943. From there, they moved to Tunisia, which would be their launching point for their next operations. Sources indicate that Carl Smith served in North Africa and Sicily, corresponding to the service history of the 325th and 82nd Airborne, which included Operation Husky and Operation Avalanche.

According to the D-Day and Battle of Normandy Encyclopedia, the 82nd Airborne conducted Operation Husky beginning on July 9, 1943, when the Division executed the first airborne offensive in military history in Sicily. The successful operation included the capture of 23,000 of the enemy and advancement of 94 kilometers. During Operation Avalanche, the 82nd conducted an airborne raid south of Salerno, Italy, and continued fighting in the region between Salerno and Naples for two months. Afterwards, the unit was sent to England to prepare for Operation Overlord. ("82nd Airborne Division History," accessed 22 May 2019,

Within Operation Overlord was Operation Neptune. These operations comprised the assault on the northern coast of Nazi-occupied France, which began June 6, 1944, D-Day. From the overview to The 82nd Airborne: World War II website:

On June 5-6, 1944, the paratroopers of the 82nd's three parachute infantry regiments and reinforced glider infantry regiment boarded hundreds of transport planes and gliders and began the largest airborne assault in history. They were among the first soldiers to fight in Normandy, France.

The division dropped behind Utah Beach, Normandy, France between Ste Mere-Eglise and Carentan on June 6th, 1944. They were reinforced by the 325th GIR the next day. The division remained under strong German pressure along the Merderit River. Eventually, the 325th GIR crossed the river to secure a bridgehead at La Fiere on June 9th.

It was on June 9 that Carl Smith lost his life. News of his death was announced August 10, 1944 in the Coal Valley News and the Charleston Gazette. The Gazette noted he was survived by his wife, Clara Hopper Smith; his brother, Dennie; and six sisters, Mrs. Grandville Vance, Mrs. Soder Stowers, Mrs. Edd Abbott, Mrs. Jean Hager, Mrs. Ansil Stone, and Mrs. Edd Kinder.

Carl Smith's burial at Spring Hill Cemetery occurred on May 2, 1948. By this time, his mother, Lucy Ann Smith had died, in 1946. Correspondence with the West Virginia Veterans Memorial Commission indicates that Clara Smith remarried (married name: Wilcoxen).
Headstone for Carl Smith at Spring Hill Cemetery. Find A Grave, courtesy Kenny Davis

Headstone for Carl Smith at Spring Hill Cemetery. Find A Grave, courtesy Kenny Davis

Article prepared by Cynthia Mullens
June 2019


Carl Lissell Smith

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.

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