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Sgt. Robert Burr Smith


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#16 appell8

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 11:11 PM

Wow, Susan. Yeah, the "tigers in the jungle" letter. That affected me profoundly when you first shared it, and it still does.

Y'all, this is a distillation of what these boards are all about. What Wild Bill did. What Babe did.

And what all the professional soldiers, troopers, marines, swabbies, flyboys, paramilitaries, have all been about.

Outstanding, Susan, BK, and Burr. Thanks, Doug

#17 VanessaBinder

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 12:07 AM

Susan or John, where did your Grandparents / Dad & Mom come up with a name like Burr. There's got to be a story in that name. Can you share it? Regards, Vanessa

#18 Irishmaam

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 12:57 PM

My that was one hell of a man, your dad. God Bless him, isnt i a shame the rest of the world doesnt have the knowledge and fore-thought he had. I wish I had the pleasure of meeting this Hero, but I have a feeling I may just do that through you. Thanlk you so very much for sharing his thoughts. And please do tell more. Cindy

#19 SusanSmithFinn

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 03:37 PM

I am not sure, but I think the name Burr was the surname of one of the Scottish grandmothers on my dad's mother's side somewhere. Uncle John would know. Grandma Burr is all I know.

I named my son Timothy Burr and he is known as Timber. We love that name. My sister named her son after both of his grandfathers, Kenneth Robert.

I will write more later tonight after I try to dig up more Burr stories. What you all should know if I have't made it clear is that I have been researching my father's life for 2 years now. When he passed away 20 years ago, I not only saved all his letters over the years to me but the letters that he had saved in his collection, many from the men of Easy in his last couple of months. That was how I found out about Band of Brothers. I did not recall the name Easy Company, only that my dad had been in the 101st. My mom called to tell me she saw an ad for the miniseries and said Dad had been in something called Easy Company and did I think it could be the same. I said, DUH! Checked it out, saw all these familiar names and started contacting the men, just to make their acquaintence. This all happened just before the series aired and we had no idea what a huge hit it would be and that these men would soon become household names.

I had all these letters for 18 years and could not bear to read them. My intent was to eventually write some sort of book based upon his letters and his advice to me about life over several years. I finally dove in and forced myself to ignore the pain in my gut and there are some really fabulous words contained in them. Then I slowly started meeting people he had know throughout his life. No matter who I meet, I will inevitably hear them say they recall his letters, always handwritten in all caps on yellow lined paper. I have been given copies of letters he wrote over the years and am always trying to get more. At the recent Easy reunion I was delighted that Walter "Smoky" Gordon's daughter Tracy found a couple of letters my dad had written to hers I believe in the late 70's or early 80's. I met a man last July who had saved several letters my dad wrote in the early 1970's from Laos and I made copies. My dad, like my uncle John, was a prolific writer but he was never published so I hope someday to weave it all together into an interesting tale.

He wrote Wild Bill for decades and Bill was gracious enough to let me scrounge around in his basement last year looking for them. All I found were two but they were doozies as they were letters written to Dick Winters, one being the entire 8 page letter that my dad wrote Dick in 1979 that was excerpted in Band of Brothers at the end. The letter in its entirety is very interesting. My father is lamenting to Dick that he had embarrassed him at Zell Am Zee for some obvious dressing down in front of his pals I assume that had hurt his feelings and then he launches into the part that was in the book about what a great leader Winters was.

Gene promises me he will continue to search for my dad's letters among Bill's things. I have been in touch with most of the Easy kids whose father was a pal of my dad's, searching for information or letters. And besides the WWII connections, I continually network with my father's CIA pals and the Hmong of Laos. Every Hmong event I go to someone comes up to me and tells me they knew my dad. He made a huge impression on the lives of everyone he knew and I am hoping to capture this somehow into a great story. I have another email from one of the pilots he worked with in Laos that says my dad basically sacrificed his marriage and family to serve his country and truly believed he was working to make our world a safer place. I am awestruck by that and Burr Smith, my dad, is my hero.

Susan

Edited by SusanSmithFinn, 21 March 2003 - 04:43 PM.


#20 SusanSmithFinn

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 04:18 PM

Now this is spooky. I no sooner wrote this post than I went to check my email and there was a message from Mike Ranney's daughter Drew saying she had found a copy of a letter her dad wrote to Dick Winters after my dad passed away that mentions my dad. I find it very interesting that all these men kept every scrap of paper, every letter, about each other after all these years, and that our families, not really knowing what we had, saved everything too. Just amazing.

Susan

#21 bamapt

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 05:25 PM

Great minds think alike. :D

#22 LongJohn

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 06:46 PM

I am not sure, but I think the name Burr was the surname of one of the Scottish grandmothers on my dad's mother's side somewhere. Uncle John would know. Grandma Burr is all I know.

I named my son Timothy Burr and he is known as Timber. We love that name. My sister named her son after both of his grandfathers, Kenneth Robert.

I will write more later tonight after I try to dig up more Burr stories. What you all should know if I have't made it clear is that I have been researching my father's life for 2 years now. When he passed away 20 years ago, I not only saved all his letters over the years to me but the letters that he had saved in his collection, many from the men of Easy in his last couple of months. That was how I found out about Band of Brothers. I did not recall the name Easy Company, only that my dad had been in the 101st. My mom called to tell me she saw an ad for the miniseries and said Dad had been in something called Easy Company and did I think it could be the same. I said, DUH! Checked it out, saw all these familiar names and started contacting the men, just to make their acquaintence. This all happened just before the series aired and we had no idea what a huge hit it would be and that these men would soon become household names.

I had all these letters for 18 years and could not bear to read them. My intent was to eventually write some sort of book based upon his letters and his advice to me about life over several years. I finally dove in and forced myself to ignore the pain in my gut and there are some really fabulous words contained in them. Then I slowly started meeting people he had know throughout his life. No matter who I meet, I will inevitably hear them say they recall his letters, always handwritten in all caps on yellow lined paper. I have been given copies of letters he wrote over the years and am always trying to get more. At the recent Easy reunion I was delighted that Walter "Smoky" Gordon's daughter Tracy found a couple of letters my dad had written to hers I believe in the late 70's or early 80's. I met a man last July who had saved several letters my dad wrote in the early 1970's from Laos and I made copies. My dad, like my uncle John, was a prolific writer but he was never published so I hope someday to weave it all together into an interesting tale.

He wrote Wild Bill for decades and Bill was gracious enough to let me scrounge around in his basement last year looking for them. All I found were two but they were doozies as they were letters written to Dick Winters, one being the entire 8 page letter that my dad wrote Dick in 1979 that was excerpted in Band of Brothers at the end. The letter in its entirety is very interesting. My father is lamenting to Dick that he had embarrassed him at Zell Am Zee for some obvious dressing down in front of his pals I assume that had hurt his feelings and then he launches into the part that was in the book about what a great leader Winters was.

Gene promises me he will continue to search for my dad's letters among Bill's things. I have been in touch with most of the Easy kids whose father was a pal of my dad's, searching for information or letters. And besides the WWII connections, I continually network with my father's CIA pals and the Hmong of Laos. Every Hmong event I go to someone comes up to me and tells me they knew my dad. He made a huge impression on the lives of everyone he knew and I am hoping to capture this somehow into a great story. I have another email from one of the pilots he worked with in Laos that says my dad basically sacrificed his marriage and family to serve his country and truly believed he was working to make our world a safer place. I am awestruck by that and Burr Smith, my dad, is my hero.

Susan

Susan,

Your dad's middle name came from your paternal line to great-grandmother Burr Marquette, who raised your grandfather as a single mother in Independence, Iowa after she divorced Robert C. Smith (changed from du Smid), my grandfather and your great-grandfather. The name is Alsatian and a mix of your German and French Smith heritage. Your Smith grandfather (Robert Marquette Smith) worked as a cook in the Montana lumber camp of his uncle Jacques Marquette before becoming a Forest Ranger in Glacier National Park in 1913, and that's probably why I was called "Jack" until I enlisted in the Army Air Corps and became Smith, John A.

Your maternal Scots/Irish ancestors were Bell (Scotland) and FitzGibbon (Ireland), your Great-grandmother being Sarah Jane Fitzgibbon and your Great-grandfather George Washington Bell, both born in Scotland and both buried on the old Bell farm near Summerside on Prince Edward Island, Canada.

The terrible thing is that your Aunt Bobette was Executrix of your Smith grandparents' estate, your dad and I both being in SEA, and after she married Jack Weirshauser took all the family photo albums, documents, records, letters and family Bible to Mulaje, Baja California, where she died just a few months before your dad's passing. Weirshauser disappeared, and all efforts to find him have failed, although he was well know as "Ironman" Weiershauser at Stanford University as a result of his participation in the 1936 Olympics, and later served as a Field & Track coach at Stanford.

Urge anyone interested in preserving the history of their antecedents to start collecting everything now, not when they are all gone and buried and the trail is cold. We both know how difficult it is to find the end of strings that lead back over decades and centuries to our roots. I, like you, would give everything I own to have intact the Smith and Bell records lost somewhere in Baja California.

Love ya, Snookums,

Unk John

#23 Bigjohn

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 07:36 PM

George Orwell sums it up best for me..
"You can sleep well at night because there are rough men willing to perform violent deeds in your behalf"

Right on Susan The stories posted by other family members of BOB are great

#24 SusanSmithFinn

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 08:11 PM

Thanks Uncle John for reminding me about the origin of the name Burr...you have told me a zillion times. You'd think I'd recall.

I am trying to decide what to post next...so much information, so little space....OK, here is one most of you have never seen. This is an anecdote written by Carwood Lipton that I came across in some of Bill's stuff while looking for my dad's letters. This was from a narrative submitted to Stephen Ambrose when Band of Brothers was being researched.

***
"I had an interesting game with the German gun a few days later. It was early in January that Lt. Dike was told by Battalion to establish contact with the unit on our left, across open ground from our position down near Foy - it might have been I Company. Lt. Dike told me to send a patrol over to make the contact, but rather than send someone else I decided to go, myself. I asked “Burr” Smith to go with me.

We made it down to the other unit okay and set up communications and outpost positions to be manned at night, but when we started back we found that a German artillery observer had seen us. Luckily as there were only two of us he could apparently get only one gun to fire at us. When we got out into the open ground we heard the gun fire off in the distance and heard the shell coming at us. We hit the ground, and it exploded near us, but neither of us was hit. It was a high trajectory, fairly low velocity, piece of artillery so we could hear the gun fire in the distance and could hear the shell coming in for several seconds before it hit. We had 600 or 700 yards of open country to go, uphill, so after the shell hit we jumped up and ran towards toward our positions until we heard the gun fire again, jumping up and running again after that shell hit. We kept this up, jumping up and running, first zigging and then zagging, after each shell hit and hitting the ground just before the next one hit, and it got funnier and funnier. We could visualize that German artillery observer and his gun crew tracking us with their gun, trying to guess whether we would zig or zag. We fooled them with every move and made it back without a scratch."
***

I find this very amusing. This would have made a great scene in Band of Brothers. My dad always seemed fearless...maybe now I know a little bit about what made him that way. One of his later CIA friends told me he was not afraid of death, in fact, he says he saw him laugh in death's face many times. Maybe he was just twisted!

Bigjohn, I love that quote and use it often! It fits well with my dad's letter, doesn't it? Thanks!

Susan

#25 VanessaBinder

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 08:24 PM

I 2nd the thought that this story would have made a really great piece in BoB. I know that being a Mom does take lots of quality time, so I really appreciate you sharing your stories with us. That one was a zinger. Thanks Susan, Regards, Vanessa

#26 McIntee

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 08:38 PM

Great stories Susan, keep em coming please!

I wonder how much stuff didn't make in the book or series? Could be interesting to gather that up and write it down. Keep it safe.

John

#27 SusanSmithFinn

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 08:56 PM

Well, I don't have it all. I am sure Gene and Gino are heir to a vast library of information, just glancing at what that packrat Bill saved! I only looked in two boxes!!!!! And there were dozens more in his basement. Bill encouraged me to take the two home and copy whatever I wanted. I kept protesting, but my sister said, "Listen to the man!" So I obeyed.

Of course, this is how big Gene and I connected. He called to yell at me for removing documents from his dad's house. I somehow convinced him my intentions were simply to find my dad's letters and that they would be returned safely. Now we are the best of buddies. I did find some interesting stories and many references to my dad. I cannot even imagine why my dad was left out of the series. He was mentioned in virtually everyone's memories and is referred to in Ambrose's book several times. I even saw a cast list at one point with his name on it, right above Sobel, but it was uncast. I guess they decided to narrow the focus. The writers told me to close my eyes and imagine my dad as any of the men theya ctually did include and that for the most part, they focused on those who were still alive when their research started or those who died in traumatic ways.

Susan

#28 Jiggersfromsphilly

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 09:23 AM

Susan,

Your words have a power and clarity that is reminiscent of Hemmingway. The time you spend on this is not time taken from your family but a contribution to their history. Like your uncle said about the strings that weave a family together, you are weaving yours for your children.


Thank you for the strings !
Tony

#29 SusanSmithFinn

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 12:03 PM

Blush, Tony. How kind. I have had a case of writers block for about 20 years now so that is sweet! My dad once told me that my letters were like face to face conversations. I write what I feel. Will keep it up! Thanks for the encouragement.

Susan

#30 Etienne

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 04:07 PM

Susan,

Thank you for the strings !


Well said,Tony,well said... :martini




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