This individual is one of 514 missing heroes from the Battle of Tarawa for which our founder conducted extensive research in an attempt to find and return home while a member of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC). Our Foundation has continued these efforts. If you are a family member, please feel free to contact our charitable foundation for more information at www.ChiefRickStone.com. There is absolutely no charge for our services. The Chief Rick Stone and Family Charitable Foundation
James Samuel Smith (Sam) was born January 21, 1924 in Liberty, Mississippi, the son of Carey Samuel and Mamie Gerald Smith. He attended school in Liberty, Mississippi, and made a good record in high school, taking part in all activities, both scholastic and social. Sam graduated in 1941 and went to Baton Rouge to work, planning to enter college and prepare for the profession of a medical doctor. Sam was brought up in the church and loved its rights and privileges. He was a member of the Liberty United Methodist Church. In physical stature Sam developed fast and became the largest of the family. This energy and size found a good outlet in high school athletics, where he became a star football player. This high ambition was never realized as our great country found itself involved in World War II and he hastened to offer himself for service. Turning down opportunities to enter the Air Corps and other branches of the service, he purposely chose the Marine Corps, for which he had a great admiration, realizing its strict discipline and dangerous undertakings. On August 3, 1942, he left for San Diego, CA, and at the end of nine weeks, sailed with the Second Marines for the South Pacific. In the early days of the Japanese conflict he saw plenty of action with a Special Weapons Battalion. Finally reaching New Zealand he enjoyed a rest period before going into the bitter days of the Solomon Island campaign. On October 10, 1943, he wrote his last letter to his family, stating he was going back to the front. This time to Tarawa of the Gilbert Islands, the bitterest battle recorded in the annals of Marine history: Sam went ashore with the first wave of the invasion and this small party held the beachhead against impossible assaults until their reinforcements finally landed. In November 1943, PFC James Samuel Smith was assigned to Company C, 2nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, which had landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, to secure the island from the Japanese. PFC James Samuel Smith (Sam) was killed in action during the assault on Beach Red 2 on the first day of the battle, November 20, 1943. He was buried on the island; his remains were found and identified in October 2016. He is being returned to his home town, Liberty, Mississippi, to be interred in the family plot in Liberty Cemetery with full military honors.
SMITH, James S, PFC, 431123, USMC, from Louisiana, location Gilbert Islands, date of loss November 20, 1943 + SMITH, James S., Pfc., USMCR. Mother, Mrs. Mamie G. Smith, Liberty, Miss + SMITH, James Samuel, 431123, Co C, 2nd Amph Trac Bn, 2nd Mar Div, FMF, Gilbert Is, November 21, 1944, killed in action + SMITH, James Samuel, Private First Class, 431123, USMC, from Louisiana, Honolulu Memorial