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Collection Veterans History Project Collection

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Norman Smith at time of interview

Veterans History Project Service Summary:

  • War or Conflict: World War, 1939-1945
  • Branch of Service: Army Air Forces/Corps
  • Service Unit/Ship: 420th Bomb Squadron, 90th Bomb Group, 5th Air Force
  • Location of Service: Pacific Theater
  • Highest Rank: Captain
  • Collection Number: AFC/2001/001/22

View full service history

"You can ditch a B-17. The thing lands just real easy because it's got a low wing... In the B-17 you had a much better chance." (Interview Transcript, page 6).

Norman Smith enlisted in the Army Air Force in the fall of 1941, figuring he was going to be flying missions over Europe in what he saw was an inevitable war. Instead, he was assigned to the Pacific Theater, and in January 1943, on a mission off the coast of New Guinea, his B-17 was set upon by Japanese Zeros. His memoir offers a harrowing account of the chaotic moments before his plane went down in the water. He spent nine days alone on a raft before reaching land. In his month on a small island, he lived off the land, ingratiated himself with the natives, and avoided capture. Ultimately, he met a trio of Australian plane spotters who helped him gain safe passage 37 days after his ordeal began.

Interview / Recording

About this Item

Title

  • Norman Dwight Smith Collection

Names

  • Veterans Heritage Project
  • Ryan, Martha
  • Hatch, Barbara
  • Smith, Norman Dwight

Home State

  • California

Headings

  • -  Smith, Norman Dwight
  • -  World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal Narratives
  • -  United States. Army Air Forces/Corps.

Repository

  • Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Gender

  • Male

Race

  • White

Status

  • veteran

Service History

  • World War, 1939-1945

    • Branch of Service: Army Air Forces/Corps
    • Service Unit/Ship: 420th Bomb Squadron, 90th Bomb Group, 5th Air Force
    • Location of Service: Pacific Theater
    • Highest Rank: Captain
    • Dates of Service: 1941-1945
    • Military Status: veteran

Materials

  • Manuscript: Transcript [1 item] -- Typewritten document (collected 2009-02)
  • Computer File: CD [1 item] -- Electronic file of manuscript (collected 2001-05-16)
  • Video: DVD [1 item] -- Reference copy (collected 2010-12-16)
  • Manuscript: Clippings [3 items] -- (collected unknown)
  • Manuscript: Correspondence [2 items] -- (collected 1943)
  • Manuscript: Memoirs [1 item] -- (collected 2000)
  • Video: Hi-8/Digital 8 [1 item] -- Oral history interview (collected 2001-05-16)

Collection Number

  • AFC/2001/001/22

Cite as

  • Norman Dwight Smith Collection (AFC/2001/001/22), Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Online Format

  • image
  • video
  • pdf

Additional Metadata Formats

Wars & Conflicts

Service Branch

Location of Service

Service Unit/Ship

Highest Rank

Discharge Status

Gender

Race

Home State

Interviewee

Interviewer

Organization/Affiliation

Rights & Access

Using VHP Material in Publication or Exhibition

The Veterans History Project (VHP) at the Library of Congress collects, preserves and makes accessible the firsthand recollections of U.S. military veterans who served from World War I through more recent conflicts and peacekeeping missions, so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand what they saw, did and felt during their service. The Veterans History Project Collection includes oral histories along with documentary materials such as original letters, diaries, photographs, and memoirs.

Veterans and interviewers contribute these materials to the Library for scholarly and educational purposes, retaining any copyright they may hold. Therefore, permission must be obtained before using the interview or other materials in exhibition or publication. Researchers or others who would like to make further use of these materials should contact the Veterans History Project for assistance.

As a publicly supported institution, the Library generally does not own rights to material in its collections. Therefore, it does not charge permission fees for use of such material and cannot give or deny permission to publish or otherwise distribute material in its collections. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item from the Library’s collections and for securing any necessary permissions rests with persons desiring to use the item.

Please contact us with questions.

Obtaining Copies of VHP Materials

In order for VHP materials to be duplicated, we must receive written permission from the interviewee for you to obtain a copy of the recording unless the proposed use is limited to personal use, research, or other uses permissible by copyright law. If the interviewee is deceased, their next-of-kin may grant written permission.

Please contact VHP for assistance if you need to contact a veteran for permission to use their materials in exhibition or publication, or if you have received permission from the veteran and need access to high-resolution copies of VHP collection materials.

Citing VHP Materials

Please use the following formats when citing Veterans History Project materials (substituting the appropriate name and collection ID number).

Materials as a whole:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/[VHP collection]), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Manuscript material:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/[VHP collection]), Memoirs (MS02), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/[VHP collection]), Transcript (MS04), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/[VHP collection]), Correspondence (MS01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Recording:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/[VHP collection]), Audio recording (SR01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/[VHP collection]), Video recording (MV01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Photograph:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/[VHP collection]), Photographs (PH01), photographer unknown, Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/[VHP collection]), Photographs (PH03-PH14), Ralph Williams photographer, Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Computer file:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/[VHP collection]), Computer file (CF01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Artifact:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/[VHP collection]), Artifact (AR01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Veterans Heritage Project, Martha Ryan, Barbara Hatch, and Norman Dwight Smith. Norman Dwight Smith Collection. 1941. Personal Narrative. https://www.loc.gov/item/afc2001001.00022/.

APA citation style:

Veterans Heritage Project, Ryan, M., Hatch, B. & Smith, N. D. (1941) Norman Dwight Smith Collection. [Personal Narrative] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/afc2001001.00022/.

MLA citation style:

Veterans Heritage Project, et al. Norman Dwight Smith Collection. 1941. Personal Narrative. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/afc2001001.00022/>.