Smith, Gordon Paul

Crewmember Status: Deceased

29/Jul/1924 – 18/Jan/2012

Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class, USNR



Boot Camp: Great Lakes Naval Training Center, IL

Battle Station while aboard DD 803: Starboard Aft twin 40mm gun mounts

Discharged: 06/Jan/1946, U.S. Personnel Separation Center, Great Lakes


Basic training was at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, IL and entered into active service on March 30, 1943. He was discharged from the U.S. Personnel Separation Center, Great Lakes, January 6, 1946.

Gordon was a frequent volunteer at the Winnetka Historical Society and it seems like a couple of the surrounding schools were doing projects regarding history.

Service Awards:
American Theatre, Asiatic Pacific-Two Bronze and One Silver Stars, Victory Medal and Unit Citation Third Fleet.

WWII Winnetka Veterans
Gazette Article by: Joan Evanich
Appeared in the Gazette: Spring/Summer 2002

Sadly, the WWII generation is passing on and this project prompted the Winnetka Historical Society to do some first-hand investigation of its own. The stories of two Winnetka boys are especially poignant.

Gordon Smith was born in Winnetka and is related to the Schmidt family associated with the Schmidt-Burnham log house. His father, Peter, passed away when Gordon was a young boy. Mrs. Smith raised her children alone, supporting them by providing catering and laundering services. Gordon attended Sacred Heart School and then New Trier, graduating in 1942. By this time, the war was full throttle and Gordon was drafted shortly after graduation. He enlisted in the Navy and began his training at Great Lakes Naval Training Station on March 30, 1943. Gunner’s Mate Smith continued his war training in San Diego, Treasure Island, Pearl Harbor and then joined the war in the South Pacific. After a short stop in Eniwetok, Gordon and the crew assisted in bombardment for the ground troops at Iwo Jima, and then in March 1945, moved on with his crew to Okinawa. As a radar picket destroyer, the USS Little was one of the ships that surrounded Okinawa to intercept enemy air raids. The ship was under almost constant attack by Japanese pilots.

“May 3, 1945 is a day I will never forget,” remembered Mr. Smith in a recent interview, “it’s the day that the USS Little went down.” The Little was patrolling Radar Picket Station 10, along with the Aaron Ward and four smaller landing crafts, “… called ‘Pall Bearers’ because they were used to pick up survivors.” Shortly after 1800 hours, four kamikaze pilots began their attack. “They would fly into the sun so you could not see them,” Smith explained. “The enemy was similar to the suicide bombers of today.” After a valiant effort, the Little was overcome, and by 18:45 hours, she was dead in the water. A call came to abandon ship. “Once the ship started to go down, the idea was to swim away as fast as you could,” Smith explained. The survivors spent over six hours in the water as the battle raged around them. Eventually a destroyer and three “pall bearers” picked up the survivors. “We even managed to save the ship’s dog, Dee Dee.”

After leave, Gordon was shipped out again, this time to Guam where on August 15, 1945, he heard the whistles blow announcing the unofficial surrender of Japan. “We were all so happy, it felt great, but the trouble was, how were we to get home?” Gunner’s Mate Third class, Gordon Smith was discharged in January, 1946. He returned home, married his sweetheart Mary Lou, and the two of them raised a family in Northfield.

Gordon P. “Snuffy” Smith Obituary
July 29, 1924 – January 18, 2012

Gordon P. “Snuffy” Smith, age 87, husband of Mary Lou Smith nee Schmitz; father of Ron (Pat) Smith, Jane Senkpiel and Don (Jeanne) Smith; grandfather of Charmayne (Chuck) Brewster, Jacqueline (Dan) Carpenter, Michele (Grant) Stanojev, Becky (Adam) Pesche, Ron Jr., Kelly (Paul) Schaffner, Katie (Kevin) Witenko and Jeff Senkpiel; great grandfather of 12. Visitation January 19th, Thursday 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Donnellan Family Funeral Home, 10045 Skokie Blvd. at Old Orchard Road, Skokie, IL 60077. Funeral Mass January 20th, Friday 10:00 a.m. at Saint Philip the Apostle Church 1962 Old Willow Road, Northfield, IL 60093. Interment Sacred Heart Cemetery, Northbrook. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Winnetka Historical Society, 411 Linden Avenue, Winnetka, IL 60093 or a charity of your choice would be appreciated. Info: 847/675-1990 or www.donnellanfuneral.com.