CARTHEL H. SMITH, JR., LCDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Carthel Smith, Jr. '40

Date of birth: January 20, 1917

Date of death: February 26, 1944

Age: 27

Lucky Bag

From the 1940 Lucky Bag:

Loss

Smitty was lost when USS Grayback (SS 208) was sunk by Japanese aircraft on February 26, 1944 south of Okinawa.

His wife was listed as next of kin.

Silver Star

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Carthel Hill Smith, Jr. (NSN: 0-85293), United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Diving Officer of a United States Submarine in action against enemy Japanese forces during an aggressive War Patrol during World War II. Controlling the depth of his ship skillfully and with excellent judgment throughout this period of hazardous operations, Lieutenant Smith rendered valuable assistance to his Commanding Officer in directing vigorous torpedo attacks which resulted in the sinking and damaging of an important amount of enemy shipping, including an auxiliary cruiser and, by his unwavering perseverance and tireless efforts, contributed materially to the success of his vessel in executing effective evasive tactics during severe hostile countermeasures. Lieutenant Smith's cool courage and steadfast devotion to duty under extremely perilous conditions were an inspiration to the officers and men of his submarine and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Pacific Fleet Board Awards: Serial 78 (November 17, 1944)
Rank: Lieutenant

Discovery of Grayback

In 2019 USS Grayback was found near Okinawa. Previous expeditions to locate her final resting place had been unsuccessful because of a mistake in translating the attacking aircraft's report.

Memorial Hall Error

Memorial Hall lists him as a LT, but multiple other sources have him as a LCDR. Posthumous promotion? Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps of 1945 has Lieutenant. (Have been unable to find the 1946 edition of this document.)

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

June 1940

Ensign, USS Salt Lake City

Others at this command: ENS Roger Currier '37, ENS Oswald Zink '38, and ENS Fraser Knight '40.

November 1940

Ensign, USS Salt Lake City

Others at this command: ENS Roger Currier '37 and ENS Fraser Knight '40.


Class of 1940

Carthel is one of 91 members of the Class of 1940 on Virtual Memorial Hall.