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Wall of Honor
A public tribute to our local service men and women.
Charles Le Grande Smith
United States Army
Charles L. (Charlie) Smith joined the United States Navy in 1943. He was assigned to the Naval Shipyard in Norfolk, VA. There he was trained as a welder and pipefitter. He left active duty in 1947. From 1943 until October 1945, he was a “landlubber”. That all changed when the USS Fall River, a Baltimore-class heavy cruiser arrived in Norfolk on October 31, 1945. Seaman Smith was assigned to the cruiser as a welder/pipefitter in the R Division.
The Fall River sailed out of Norfolk with a crew of 1,142 officers and enlisted personnel until January 31, 1946. Then the cruiser was assigned to JTF 1, (Joint Task Force) organized to conduct Operation Crossroads, atomic weapons tests in the Marshall Islands in the summer of 1946. To prepare for this duty, Fall River sailed to San Pedro California, where from February 16 until March 6 she was altered to provide flagship accommodations. Arriving at Pearl Harbor on 17 March, she embarked Rear Admiral Frank. G. Fahrion, commander of the target vessel’s group for the tests, and with him and Charlie Smith on board sailed in the Marshalls between 21 May and 14 September 1946.
Caught up in post-war economizing measures, the ship was placed out of commission on October 31, 1947 about the same time that Charles Le Grande Smith elected to return to civilian life. Returning from active duty, Charlie Smith became a part-time farmer and served as a police officer with the Columbus County Police Force, the Whiteville Police Department and as Chief of Police in Fair Bluff when he retired. Mr. Charlie, as he was affectionately known, is the father of Lake Waccamaw residents Kathryn Foley and Le Grande Smith who reside on Bella Coola Road.
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