Medal of Honor recipients (May 1943)

SGT Maynard Harrison “Snuffy” Smith, 31, USAAF (1911–1984)

423 BS, 306 BG (H), 8th Air Force
Brest, France
May 1, 1943
Presented July 15, 1943


The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to SGT Maynard Harrison Smith Sr., United States Army Air Forces, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 423rd Bombardment Squadron, 306th Bombardment Group (H), 8th Air Force in action on a bombing mission to Brest, France, May 1, 1943.

The aircraft of which SGT Smith was a gunner was subjected to intense enemy anti-aircraft fire and determined fighter airplane attacks while returning from a mission over enemy-occupied continental Europe on May 1, 1943. The airplane was hit several times by anti-aircraft fire and cannon shells of the fighter airplanes, two of the crew were seriously wounded, the aircraft’s oxygen system shot out, and several vital control cables severed when intense fires were ignited simultaneously in the radio compartment and waist sections. The situation became so acute that three of the crew bailed out into the comparative safety of the sea. SGT Smith, then on his first combat mission, elected to fight the fire by himself, administered first aid to the wounded tail gunner, manned the waist guns, and fought the intense flames alternately. The escaping oxygen fanned the fire to such intense heat that the ammunition in the radio compartment began to explode, the radio, gun mount, and camera were melted, and the compartment completely gutted. SGT Smith threw the exploding ammunition overboard, fought the fire until all the firefighting aids were exhausted, manned the workable guns until the enemy fighters were driven away, further administered first aid to his wounded comrade, and then by wrapping himself in protecting cloth, completely extinguished the fire by hand. This soldier’s gallantry in action, undaunted bravery, and loyalty to his aircraft and fellow crewmembers, without regard for his own personal safety, is an inspiration to the U.S. Armed Forces.

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PVT Joseph Pantillion Martínez, 22, USA (1920–1943)

Company K, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division
Attu Island, Aleutian Islands, Alaska
May 26, 1943
Presented November 11, 1943


The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (posthumously) to PVT Joseph P. Martinez, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy on May 26, 1943, while serving with Company K, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, in action at Attu Island, Aleutian Islands, Territory of Alaska.

Over a period of several days, repeated efforts to drive the enemy from a key defensive position high in the snow-covered precipitous mountains between East Arm Holtz Bay and Chichagof Harbor had failed. On May 26, 1943, troop dispositions were readjusted and a trial coordinated attack on this position by a reinforced battalion was launched. Initially successful, the attack hesitated. In the face of severe hostile machinegun, rifle, and mortar fire, PVT Martinez, an automatic rifleman, rose to his feet and resumed his advance. Occasionally he stopped to urge his comrades on. His example inspired others to follow. After a most difficult climb, PVT Martinez eliminated resistance from part of the enemy position by BAR fire and hand grenades, thus assisting the advance of other attacking elements. This success only partially completed the action. The main Holtz-Chichagof Pass rose about 150 feet higher, flanked by steep rocky ridges and reached by a snow-filled defile. Passage was barred by enemy fire from either flank and from tiers of snow trenches in front. Despite these obstacles, and knowing of their existence, PVT Martinez again led the troops on and up, personally silencing several trenches with BAR fire and ultimately reaching the pass itself. Here, just below the knifelike rim of the pass, PVT Martinez encountered a final enemy-occupied trench and as he was engaged in firing into it, he was mortally wounded. The pass, however, was taken, and its capture was an important preliminary to the end of organized hostile resistance on the island.