From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Robert Smith '20

Date of birth: August 8, 1898

Date of death: January 21, 1943

Age: 44

Lucky Bag

From the 1920 Lucky Bag:

Career & Loss

From Destroyer History Foundation:

Robert Holmes Smith, born at Harrellsville, North Carolina on 8 August 1898, was graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy on 6 June 1919. After duty in various surface ships, he served with the Submarine Service for 17 years.

He commanded Bonita (SS 165), was an instructor at the New London submarine school, a member of the Naval Academy staff, Submarine Gunnery Officer with the Bureau of Navigation, Navigation Officer in Pennsylvania (BB 38), and Chief of Staff for Submarine Division, Atlantic Patrol Force.

Following promotion to captain, he commanded Sperry (AS 12) in the Pacific from May 1942 to January 1943, and was Commander of Squadron 2, Pacific Submarine Fleet, when he died in an airplane crash in California on 21 January 1943.

His wife, Francis, was listed as next of kin; he was also survived by his son, Robert Jr. (USNA '47), who retired a Navy Captain.

Robert is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Legion of Merit

From Hall of Valor:

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Captain Robert Holmes Smith, United States Navy, was awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States.

Service: Navy
Rank: Captain


USS Robert H. Smith (DM 23) was named for Robert; she was the lead ship of her class of destroyer minelayers.

Related Articles

Robert English '11, Donald Godwin '11, John Crane '26, Francis Black '26, William Myers '26, John Coll '27, and George Stone '31 were also lost in the crash of Pan Am Flight 1104. Eight of the ten passengers were Naval Academy graduates.

Class of 1920

Robert is one of 27 members of the Class of 1920 on Virtual Memorial Hall.