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Military pilot William Smith recalls only snippets from tour through Germany decades later

From the Stories from Frederick County's World War II veterans series
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William Smith

World War II veteran William Smith smiles for a photo in his Frederick home in August 2017. 

More than 70 years after Frederick resident William Smith enlisted in the military, it is not surprising that he does not remember everything that happened during his tour.

The veteran, now 92, suffers from symptoms of dementia, but his wife, Margaret, and his son offered insight into his time serving his country during World War II.

Smith enlisted in the Army in June 1945 and underwent basic aviation and mechanic training at Keesler Army Airfield (later known as Keesler Air Force Base) in Biloxi, Mississippi. He was almost 20 at the time.

After training, Smith was stationed at Fritzlar, Giebelstadt, Kassel and Schweinfurt, Germany.

He was part of the 417th Night Fighter Squadron until it was deactivated in November 1946. The squadron saw action in the European theater, flying both the British Beaufighter and the P-61 Black Widow night fighters.

After that, he was reassigned to Andrews Field in Camp Springs, Maryland.

Smith climbed the ranks to become a private first class in the Air Force before exiting in April 1948, at the age of 22.

After the war, Smith began working at Westinghouse Electronic Co. He started out painting before becoming a machinist and then an inspector and a supervisor.

— Mallory Panuska

Follow Mallory Panuska on Twitter: @MalloryPanuska.

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