story by Kathie Beckett
Artwork by Jack Smith
WWII veteran Jack Smith, age 86, joined the U.S. Navy before his 18th birthday, yet he still finds it difficult to talk about his experience.
He overcame that and recently spoke in downtown Acworth at the monthly meeting of the “The League of Honorable Gentlemen” civic organization, made up mostly of history buffs, but also veterans from the Korean and Vietnam wars. The crowd listened intently as Smith shared his experiences in Okinawa. He said, “I’m very fortunate to have survived.”
He described his fear as Japanese airplanes flew over his ship. He said, “I remember one time, a plane was diving on us. I noticed from the sound of it, coming from the other side of the ship––screaming, coming down on us, and I couldn’t see it. I realized my knees were hurting. They were knocking together. The plane took a 90 degree dive into the ocean; I could see the tracers. Finally, the cockpit flew open and the pilot fell out. One wing came off. The pilot landed in the water in front of me. I watched, but the pilot never
A retired freelance artist, he prefers to tell his story through artwork, and, in doing so, also honors his brother, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He said, “If you know anything about the Marines at Guadalcanal, you know what they went through.”
Many of his pieces are on display at the Gallery 4463 in downtown Acworth (gallery4463.com). Smith said, “There’s a new show each month. You might see something you like.”
The League of Honorable Gentlemen meets the first Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the Acworth Bookstore at 4857 N. Main St in Acworth; (678)-403-1355 or acworthbookstore.com. The public is invited to attend.