John William Smith
Cadet Corporal, Sergeant, Senior Private Club; ROTC
Wife: Margaret Brown Smith, Daughter: Jean Mitchell Smith
Army Air Force, First Lieutenant
Pilot training at Eglin Field
Nov 23, 1913
Mar 4, 1942
Killed when his plane crashed during a routine flight near Eglin, Field Florida.
1Lt Smith is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Greenville. His daughter is buried beside him.
John William Smith, the son of Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Smith, was born November 23, 1913, in Greenville, SC. “Bill,” as he was known to all of his friends, received his education in the Parker School system and entered Clemson in September, 1932. While at Clemson, Bill majored in chemistry and took part in many campus activities.
Before his enlistment in the air corps he was connected with the DuPont Corporation in Tennessee. He received his aerial training at Randolph and Kelly Fields respectively.
According to the official report, Bill was killed when his plane crashed during a routine flight near Eglin Field, Florida, in March, 1942.
For some time we have endeavored to contact Bill’s parents, but to no avail. Wherever they are, however, we send, on this Memorial Day our sympathies, our prayers, and our pride for a Clemson Tiger who gave his life in the performance of duty. We are sure that he died as the other noble sons of Clemson-Marching along to victory.
Extract from The Tiger the Clemson student newspaper.
Accident Report Number42-3-4-6Aircraft Model: AT-6A; S/N #41-528 Location: Eglin Field, Florida Place of Departure Aux. Field No. 4, Eglin Field, FL Intended destination: Local Type of Mission: Diving attack simulation Date: March 4, 1942; Time: 13:46 CWT Location of Crash: 2 miles North of Aux. Field No. 4 Reason aircraft was lost: Error of judgment Number of Persons aboard aircraft; Crew 1 Passengers 1 Total 2 2nd Lt. Richard E. Baldsiefen, Pilot-fatal 1st Lt. John W. Smith, Passenger-fatal
Narrative of eyewitness statements:
- A diving attack simulation was attempted involving four planes, two approximately 8,000 feet above the ground, and two 4,000 feet above.
- After diving from an altitude of 8,000 feet to approximately 3,000 feet, the left aileron of the fateful plane tore away from the left wing and the outer left wing section tore away from the center section. The outer wing section tore off near the joint where attached to the center section. The plane continued in a spinning dive to the earth, making it impossible for pilot and passenger to use their parachutes.
- The diving speed of the airplane was estimated in excess of 250 miles per hour, a speed in excess of the maximum air speed permissible for this type of aircraft.