Remembered as a Hero in Woodbury

World War II veteran, 87, gets Purple Heart at Memorial Day ceremony in Woodbury.

Richard Smith, a Marine private who served in the Pacific theater during World War II, got his Purple Heart after he was wounded in combat.

Only one problem.

“His bag never followed him home,” said his daughter, Woodbury resident Donna Smith-Stafford, who is active in the .

During Monday’s , Smith was awarded his Purple Heart once again.


Smith, 87, who enlisted with the Marines at age 17, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, his daughter said.

“I didn’t want to pin it on him in his casket,” she said.

Smith doesn’t look back on his military service as a time of glory, Smith-Stafford said, and usually tells his family: “This was what I had to had to do.”

“I want him to remember himself as a hero,” Smith-Stafford said. “He doesn’t ever think of himself that way. But to me, he is.”

Smith-Stafford spent the past year contacting government officials to get a new Purple Heart, and the former athlete from the eastside of St. Paul was recognized Monday at the Woodbury Veterans Memorial.

“I finally got it back,” Smith told Patch after the ceremony, when several people came up to him and thanked him for his service.

While his first Purple Heart medallion never returned stateside, Smith noted a different kind of memento from his time in the Marines—one he’ll never be without.

“I still have the souvenirs,” he said, pointing to bullet entry and exit wounds on his arm.


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Kris Janisch May 29, 2012 at 04:53 PM
One nugget not in this story: Smith and his wife have been married for 60 years.
38 YEAR WDBY RESIDENT May 30, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Thank you and May god bless you and your family Richard.
Margaret Wachholz May 30, 2012 at 10:17 AM
HOO-AH! PFC Smith and family. Congratulations and thanks for sharing this heart-warming story.
Cathy Dyball May 30, 2012 at 05:46 PM
What a special story.


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