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James Smith Oral History

Identifier: OHP 012

Scope and Contents

James Smith served aboard Intrepid during World War II, from 1943 to 1946, and was a seaman first class stationed as a first loader on a 40mm gun. Smith began his interview by providing a brief background of his life before he joined the Navy. He then discussed his decision join the Navy, how he felt after the Pearl Harbor attack, being assigned to gunnery, and his job as a first loader. After focusing on his initial Navy experiences, Smith described the first time he saw Intrepid, as well as the shakedown cruise to Trinidad, the eventful passage through the Panama Canal, and a memory of his time in sick bay. He then discussed combat and the fear he experienced the first time the ship was under attack. Smith stated that the ship was hit by one torpedo and five kamikazes, and specifically mentioned the torpedo attack at Truk, the first two kamikaze attacks, the near miss with the Betty bomber, and the ensuing burials at sea, which he helped to perform. Smith also discussed life aboard ship, specifically his berthing, food, and the crew’s recreational activities such as playing cards, basketball, and reading and writing letters. He then recounted his time spent as a lookout. Toward the end of the interview, Smith described the atmosphere aboard ship when the war ended and his experiences in Japan after the surrender. James Smith concluded his interview by speaking about life after the Navy, which included multiple business endeavors, and stating that he was glad Intrepid was saved.


  • August 16, 2013



21 Sheets

4 Files

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For full transcript, please contact


David Dzendzel
October 30, 2015
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Repository Details

Part of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Online Archives Repository

One Intrepid Square
W. 46th Street and 12th Avenue
New York NY 10036-4103 United States