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  Westminister Victory, New York July 1946 coming from World War II  
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Harry Smeltzer Navy

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Harry George Smeltzer - 2207 Views
honored by carolyn smeltzer, daugher

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Assigned: USS Franklin CV 13
Highest Rank: crewman
Entered Service: 1/3/1943
Exited Service: 1/3/1946
Foreign Service Length: three years
Location of Service: pacific
Gender: male
Basic Training: Great Lakes
Service Related Injury: burns from japanese bombing, ship bombed five different times
From City: Irwin,
From State: Pennsylvania
Current City: Prescott
Current State: Arizona
Date of Birth: 03/2023
My War Stories
  3/19/1945 Harry Smeltzer, a former member of the USS Franklin, this week presented a signed limited-edition lithograph of the ship ablaze to the Bob Stump Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Prescott. The signed lithograph is No. 499 of 500 prints of a drawing by fellow USS Franklin crewman Robert J. Albrecht. "I am happy to donate this picture to the VA because it is a part of history and should be preserved. The VA has been wonderful to me, and I wanted them to know that," Smeltzer said. The former resident of Pennsylvania lived in Prescott for 11 years before becoming a resident of the Community Living Center at the Bob Stump VA hospital a year ago. "I am just so proud to know Harry and truly appreciate the bravery and the humbleness of his heroic efforts to defend the U.S.A.," Dr. Rene Jelinek of the CLC said of Smeltzer. "All our veterans here at the VA are heroes, and it is an honor for me to be of service to them." Smeltzer, 86, is a survivor of the famed Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV-13). The 21-year-old seaman was a member of the catapult crew that launched the planes from the flight deck of the huge carrier. The USS Franklin had the distinction of being the most heavily damaged carrier ship to survive the war. On March 19, 1945, the ship had maneuvered closer to the Japanese mainland than any other U.S. carrier during the war - about 50 miles off its coast. The USS Franklin had launched a fighter sweep against Honshu and later a strike against shipping in Kobe Harbor before a Japanese dive-bomber launched two 550-pound armor-piercing bombs on a low-level run that hit the ship before the sun rose that day. That was about five months before the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The Daily Courier | Prescott veteran brings history to local VA 12/26/09 9:40 AM Page 2 of 2 signed lithograph of the USS Franklin. Smeltzer, who was in the mess hall below deck having breakfast, said the enemy bombs tore through the decks and ignited the ammunition stored below, causing grave destruction and death. He ran up to the flight deck to man his battle station and helped fight the fires. While carrying the fire hose under his right arm, Smeltzer had to keep covering his nose and mouth because of the heavy smoke. "It was before dawn when we were attacked and everything was pitch black, except for the flames. I didn't think I would live to make it to my birthday, which was in three days," he said. Smeltzer said he remembers vividly the bombs on the ship's planes exploding from the heat and fire, and the crews pushing all the burning wreckage overboard into the ocean. "Even the next day they were tossing ruined equipment and planes into the ocean," he said. As one of the ship's crew who wasn't injured, Smeltzer said he was one of the lucky ones because 724 men died, and the bombing and its aftermath wounded 265. Smeltzer said there were many heroes that morning, such as the men who repeatedly traveled below the USS Franklin's deck to rescue trapped comrades who could not find their way topside in the fiery trap. From the deck of the USS Santa Fe, Smeltzer observed a failed kamikaze attack on the injured ship the next day, with the Japanese "Judy" dive-bomber crashing into the sea. While he escaped uninjured in the March 1945 attack, Smeltzer received injuries in an attack in October 1944. Smeltzer was on the flight deck when he witnessed two Japanese kamikaze aircraft achieve their target and crash into the carrier, generating significant structural damage. The Navy repaired the USS Franklin after that assault and sent it back to active duty in the Pacific Theater of Operations. However, after the damage it received in the March 1945 attack, it was not able to get back into action. The ship was towed out of the area by the cruiser Pittsburgh. Once the USS Franklin was able to raise enough steam, she made her way to the Ulithi Atoll for emergency repairs. Then, the ship steamed to Pearl Harbor for more repairs before its voyage, under its own power, to New York Harbor for repairs. The USS Franklin and Bunker Hill - which also had sustained severe damage from aerial attack - were the only carriers in their class that never saw any active-duty postwar service, though their wartime damage had been successfully repaired. The Navy decommissioned the USS Franklin in February 1947.

My War Awards
  • Purple Heart Medal (Recieved injuries when the ship, USS Franklin was hit by Japanese in the Pacific, March 19,1945. The ship was the USS Franklin CV 13. It was hit or bombed five times, the most of any ship during WW11 and never sunck. 900 Men were lost over time on this ship during WW11)