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Lt Colonel Meryl M. Smith

Lt Colonel Meryl M. Smith

Lt Colonel Meryl M. Smith

Meryl M. Smith joined the Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet from North East, Pennsylvania in 1940. He was rated a pilot and commissioned a second lieutenant on 7 February 1941,ensuring his seniority in the greatly expanding wartime Army Air Forces.

By early 1943 Smith was flying with the 35th Fighter Group in the Southwest Pacific, but he helped to form the new 475th Group that June, becoming operations officer. At that time he was an experienced fighter pilot with some 875 hours logged.

As a major attached to group headquarters, Smith flew most of the significant P-38 missions. He gained his first two victories, both Mitsubishi Zekes, over Wewak, New Guinea on 16 November 1943. He added a Kawasaki Tony off Cape Moen on 22 December.

Credited with destroying a Lily bomber on 3 February 1944, Smith became an ace by splashing a Val dive bomber two miles southeast of Jefman Air Station on 16 June. Promoted to lieutenant colonel at age 26, he claimed a Rufe floatplane on 1 August, then temporarily assumed command of "Satan's Angels."

On 14 October Smith led a long range mission to Borneo, destroying a Hamp fighter over Balikpapan. When the 475th moved to the Philippines, further combat presented itself. On the "anniversary mission" of 7 December, the group claimed 27 victories in defense of U.S. shipping. Smith shot down two Mitsubishi Jacks before being shot down himself. His P-38L was seen to fall into Ormoc Bay.

Tally Record:
9 Confirmed

Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Medal with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters 

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