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"Our regiment was a political football. We were trained for infantry, we were not supposed to be ready for combat, and they really did not know what to do with us." (Audio Interview, 1:11)

   Rothacker Childs Smith
Image of Rothacker Childs Smith
Rothacker Smith at time of service
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army
Unit: 366th Infantry Regiment
Service Location: Southern Italy
POW: Yes
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A conscientious objector, Rothacker Smith served in the 366th Infantry Regiment as a medic. The 366th shipped out to Italy but was assigned to guard duties, making Smith’s life as a medic a fairly easy job. When they were attached to the 92nd Division in December 1944, he was called upon to use his training in combat. On December 26, he was wounded by friendly artillery fire that he later found out was called in by Medal of Honor recipient John Fox on his own position in Sommocolonia to stop an enemy advance. Smith was subsequently captured by the Germans and held until the end of the war. He attended the White House ceremony when Fox’s widow received his medal from President Clinton.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (3 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (42 min.)
»Transcript
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 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (3 items)
His unit, the 366th Infantry Regiment, was a political football: trained for infantry but not supposed to be ready for combat; was a conscientious objector and a medic; the 366th going to Italy to guard supplies and bases, so there was no combat and little need for his services. (01:27) Attached to the 92nd, going on the front line; told by a general that he hadn't asked for them and didn't want them; ammunition was rationed; on Dec. 26, wounded by shrapnel; had to treat another soldier in worse shape; heard the German took no black prisoners, so he was sure he was going to die; more shelling; only later learned that the shelling was called in by a comrade, John Fox, on his own position, to slow the Germans; Fox received the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously and Smith was at the ceremony; was taken prisoner by the Germans for several months. (06:39) How he was wounded; after he was captured, being held in Sommocolonia; mortar shell injuring him and when he was being treated by a German medic, house next door hit by a 500-pound bomb; marched by Germans away from town; numb from the waist down and barely able to walk, counting off his progress in increments, knowing that if he stopped, he would be shot. (12:00)
  
 

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  October 26, 2011
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