Al Schmid

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Al Schmid
Birth nameAlbert Andrew Schmid
Born(1920-10-20)20 October 1920
Burholme, Pennsylvania
Died1 December 1982(1982-12-01) (aged 62)
St. Petersburg, Florida
Allegiance USA
Service/branchU.S. Marine Corps
Years of service1941 - 1944
RankSergeant
Battles/wars

World War II

AwardsNavy Cross
 
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Al Schmid
Birth nameAlbert Andrew Schmid
Born(1920-10-20)20 October 1920
Burholme, Pennsylvania
Died1 December 1982(1982-12-01) (aged 62)
St. Petersburg, Florida
Allegiance USA
Service/branchU.S. Marine Corps
Years of service1941 - 1944
RankSergeant
Battles/wars

World War II

AwardsNavy Cross

Al Schmid (20 October 1920 – 1 December 1982) was a United States Marine who was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions at the Battle of the Tenaru during the Battle of Guadalcanal. He was blinded in the battle. His life story appeared in the American news magazines of the time,[1] the book Al Schmid, Marine by Roger Butterfield, and the 1945 film Pride of the Marines, in which he was played by John Garfield.

Biography[edit]

Albert Andrew Schmid was born in Burholme, Pennsylvania. He worked a variety of jobs before becoming an apprentice steel burner at the Dodge Steel Company in Philadelphia in 1940.[2]

After hearing of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Schmid enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on 9 December 1941, being trained at Parris Island South Carolina and New River North Carolina where he was assigned to the 11th Machine Gun Squad, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. He used a bonus from his employer to purchase an engagement ring for his girlfriend Ruth Hartley.

Schmid landed with his regiment on Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942. On the night of 21 August, Schmid was manning a M1917 Browning machine gun along with Corporal LeRoy Diamond and Private First Class Johnny Rivers.[1] Schmid refused medical treatment for a serious foot infection in order to remain with his weapon and fellow Marines.[3]

Japanese Colonel Kiyonao Ichiki and 800 of his men attacked the perimeter held by the 2nd Battalion during the night with the goal of breaking through to destroy the American airstrip of Henderson Field that would conclude the campaign in the favour of Japan.

During the night, Rivers the gunner was killed by a bullet through the head, Diamond, the gun commander, was wounded and several bullets hit and shredded the water jacket of their machine gun. A Japanese soldier threw a grenade in the machine gun pit, blinding Schmid, but Schmid kept firing his weapon, guided by Diamond. The machine gun "got red-hot", but continued to work.[1] The next morning, over 200 dead Japanese were counted in front of their machine gun.[4]

Schmid was awarded the Navy Cross on 18 February 1943.[1] Diamond and Rivers were also awarded the Navy Cross.

He married Ruth Hartley in April 1943. They had a son, Al Schmid, Jr., in June 1944. Schmid spoke at war bond rallies across the nation and was in the public's eye through Roger Butterfield's book and the Warner Bros. film. The Republican Party nominated Schmid for the Pennsylvania Secretary of Internal Affairs, but he lost the election.[5]

Schmid eventually recovered partial sight in one eye, but problems with his leg led him to retire in 1957 and move to Florida.

Al Schmid died of bone cancer on 1 December 1982. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Butterfield, Roger (22 March 1943). "Al Schmid: Hero". Life: 35–44. 
  2. ^ "Albert Andrew Schmid, Sergeant, United States Marine Corps". arlingtoncemetery.net. 
  3. ^ p.114 Gerber, David A. In Search of Al Schmid quoted in Mitchell, David T. & Snyder, Sharon L. The Body and Physical Differences: Discourses of Disability 1997 University of Michigan Press
  4. ^ "Army & Navy - HEROES: Dear Ruth . . .". Time. 1 February 1943.  (subscription required)
  5. ^ p. 116 ibid

External links[edit]