Brothers chosen for Honor Flight trip

Published 10:10 pm Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hudson Smith and M.G. Smith come from a long line of veterans. Their grandfather fought in the Civil War, and their father in World War I.

Both Smith brothers are veterans of World War II and the Korean War, both serving as squad leaders in different units of the Infantry. On Wednesday, they will fly to Washington, D.C. for a long-awaited opportunity to see the memorials dedicated to their bravery.

“I registered for the Army the same day he got married,” M.G. Smith, 84, said, pointing to his older brother.

When M.G. joined the Army on July 17, 1943 at Ft. McClellan, the sergeant asked him for his full name but he refused to comply.

“I told them my mama named me M.G., and I wasn’t going to change it, and he argued with me for a while,” he said.

He went on to explain that until age 4, he didn’t have a name. His mother simply called him “Boy.” But one day, a woman who helped clean the house suggested that his mother name him M.G., and the name stuck.

It didn’t take too long for the sergeant to straighten out the confusion.

“He came back and said, ‘Well, M.G., you’re in the Army now!’” he recalled.

M.G. served as a rifleman and bazooka operator in the 104th Infantry of Company I.

After landing in France, they walked 29 miles to Belgium where they were assigned with the British Army to clear out Belgium and Holland.

“We were the first to land in France after D-Day,” he said.

Hudson Smith, 88, first served in the Air Force but was transferred to the Infantry after D-Day. His unit, the 29th Infantry of Company K, was also assigned to Belgium.

Hudson recalled one night at the Siegfried Line, a defense system stretching along the west border of Germany.

“When I got in there that night, I looked around and those boys that were still there still had their snow suits on. They looked old,” he said. “When they got cleaned up, they were just boys like myself.”

Hudson remembers vividly when his platoon leader was hit in the back with a mortar round.

“It picked me up off the ground,” he said.

Both brothers were called back into service during the Korean War but never had to enter into combat. Both were discharged on the same day.

Today, the family’s legacy of service continues. Two of M.G.’s sons served in Iraq, as did Hudson’s oldest grandson. The Smiths also had a late brother, Alfred, who served in World War II; and a brother, Curtis, who served during the Korean War.

“I’m proud of my family’s service,” M.G. said.

Wednesday, the brothers will share another memory, this time on a one-day trip to Washington through Honor Flight Birmingham. The nonprofit program was set up to allow veterans to see their memorials at no cost to veterans themselves.

“I just appreciate the opportunity to get to go,” Hudson Smith said.