by Robert E Wright Jr, President
MEMORIAL DAY 2019 – If you look at the Cover of ELSIE ITEM 105 it features a single white cross. It’s one among the 9,386 American graves at the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, France. This issue features Memorial Day and the 75th Anniversary of the landings at Normandy. It is appropriate that we do take time to reflect on the cost in young men’s lives that the United States and their Allies paid on those days long ago that freed the world of National Socialism.
I, with the additional assistance of our European Historian, John France, have spent numerous hours updating the LCI Memorial Section that is presented in this issue. This project is not one that brings any elation. With each new name that you added to our roll you realize that another family experienced tremendous grief when they received that notice their son was not going to be returning to them when the war ended. It is only right that we take a few minutes of our time to read those names of those who gave up their futures, so we could live in the freedom that we enjoy now.
The name on the Normandy cross is Leonard J. Smith, Chief Boswain Mate, United States Navy. Chief Smith died June 16, 1944 on board the USS LCI(L) 414. This is all the information we can determine from the records that are currently available. Indirectly, I know Leonard, because I have spoken to his son while trying to uncover lost information about his death on that far away shore. I like to picture Leonard as one of the characters in a John Wayne movie that was made during the early part of the War. You know the part, the tough old Navy Chief, who seemed really old and knew everything there is to know about the Navy from his years of experience. And maybe that part was true, because Chief Smith had served in the United States Navy during World War I.
On June 16th 1944, Chief Smith died aboard one of our Landing Craft Infantry, the 414. We don’t know to which naval unit that he was assigned. We don’t know why he was there on that day. We can find no specific event that was the cause of his injuries and death. He was among us on his final day, and we will call him our brother and will rightly honor him as one of our Heroes.
REUNION 2019 – Earlier this month the Association held its annual reunion and general business meeting. One of the Navy traditions says that you should never volunteer for additional duty. That was the case this year as no one stepped forward to run for office of President or Vice President. I like to believe that was the result of the “exceptional” work being done by myself as President and Rich Lovell as Vice-President. So, the results of the elections of officers should not come as a surprise. We both offered to continue in our current offices, and we were approved by the voting of the members present, representing you.
Thank you for your continued confidence, and we will continue our work and do our best to represent the Association during the year to come.
There are a many people to thank for all the work and effort that went into getting the reunion launched and all the events that happened.
A special Thank You to the Amphibious Forces Memorial Museum and their entire crew, for hosting this year’s events. A special thanks for all the long hours and hard work in preparing the LCI-713 and for accommodating our visit on Saturday afternoon.
Thank you to Rick Holmes and Sue Cosper for being so gratuitous of hosts. Events like this only take place after an enormous amount of work and hours are expended, so that it appears that all the events happen, just like magic.
Thank you to Rich Lovell for presiding at the Memorial Program. It is an emotionally difficult task to acknowledge the passing of our friends of so many years.
Thank you to the Association Executive Board Members for your attendance this year. I know that it took a real effort on your part to attend. Your inputs guide this Association and keep it relevant as it steers course toward the future.