Honor to the Fallen
Carole and I stood along with many others outside the Old Post Chapel on Fort Myer Army Base next to Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia and watched as the band of the U.S. Army Old Guard, 3rd Infantry Division played softly and eight of the Old Guard, honor guard moved with reverence to the Cason which would carry the body of Lt. Colonel Rex Smith to his resting place in Arlington National Cemetery. The six great black horses pulled the Cason followed by the band and the company of men of the 3rd infantry Division the two miles to the eternal resting place of his remains.
This journey started on October 8, 1936 when Rex Smith, age 14, talked his sister into posing as his mother and signing the papers stating that he was 18 so that he could enter the United States Army. In his first years as an enlisted man his Commanding officer tried to get Rex to attend OfficersCandidateSchool believing that he would make a good Army Officer. Rex knew if he did this his real age would be discovered and he would be sent home. He was at Wheeler Field in Schofield Barracks on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. He received the Soldiers Medal during that battle for retrieving the fallen bodies of two citizens by going down a 600 foot rope and bringing them back one at a time. By 1943 his age was no longer an issue so he attended OfficersCandidateSchool and was commissioned a Second Lineament. On June 6, 1944 he was with the First Engineer Amphibious Special Brigade as they made the 7:00 A.M., first wave, landing at Utah Beach, NormandyFrance. He retired as a Lt. Colonel in July of 1962 at the age of 40 after having served 26 years in the army. He had a second career as an Inspector in the District Attorney’s Office, San Mateo County, California and retired again in 1978,
At his grave we listed as the Chaplain read the word of God and prayed, then the thundering sound of the 21 guns and the somber playing of ‘The Last Call” taps and watched as the flag he served for 26 years was folded and given to his son. Later at the Officer’s Club at FortMyer we looked at pictures, shared moments with friend from his years in the army and in retirement. In the week in which our Nation celebrates its birth we watched with reverence as honor was paid to one of its soldiers and his remains were placed with the more than 300.000 others who are so honored at Arlington. God Bless America and God bless the Men and Women who have paid the greatest price for our freedom.
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