Smith, Odell

Odell Smith was born September 14, 1922 in Blountsville, Alabama. I was unable to find his parents’ names. He had at least three sisters and one brother. When he registered for the draft in June 1942, 19 year old Odell was living on O’Shaugnessy Avenue in Huntsville, Alabama and working at the Dallas textile mill. He was inducted into the US Army 9 November 1942 at Fort McClellan, Alabama. He served in the 413th Infantry Regiment of the 104th Infantry Division and rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant. The 104th ID was activated on 15 September 1942 at Camp Adair, Oregon and trained in the northwestern United States for much of the next two years, earning its name "Timberwolf Division". In preparation for combat in Europe, the division practiced techniques for river crossings, assault on strong points, and cooperation with field artillery.

The 413th sailed for France on 27 August 1944 aboard the transport USS Lejuene and arrived at the port of Cherbourg on 7 September 1944. The 413th and the rest of the 104th remained in staging areas for several weeks, and spent the time in additional training, then moved by train into Belgium. The division finally began combat operations on 25 October in rainy, chilly, and muddy conditions. The German defenders were spread thin but made use of mines, booby traps, and roadblocks to delay the Allied advance. Over the next two weeks, the division fought its way across Belgium, reaching the German border on 7 November 1944 and took up positions near Aachen. The division next battled their way through Stolberg, Eschweiler, and Inden, fighting street by street and house by house. They arrived at the west bank of the Roer River on 3 December 1944 and by 23 December all areas west of the Roer were in American hands. SSgt Smith was killed in action on 24 December 1944 and posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. He was also posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Oak Leaf Cluster for his actions on 23 November 1944, when he helped to rescue his platoon which had become cut off, and 1 December 1944, when he and several others cleared out an enemy stronghold that was holding up the advance of his company.

Odell Smith is buried in the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in Margraten, Netherlands and is also memorialized at the Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial.