August 03, 2005
RIP, Sgt. Smith, VC

Sgt. Ernest 'Smokey' Smith passed away today at the age of 91. From what I understand, he passed away at home with family, still having his nip of Scotch time and again.

He was the last remaining recipient of the Canadian Victoria Cross. The Victoria Cross is the highest award for valour that can be awarded to members of the British and Commonwealtharmed forces of any rank in any service and civilians under military command. It is only awarded for bravery "in the face of the enemy". Sgt. Smith earned his on October 21, 1944, holding back a regiment of 30 German soldier, 3 tanks and a raging river in Italy. Switching between a Thompson submachine gun and PIAT anti-tank gun, Smokey repelled the attackers, carries a wounded comrade to safety, and holds the position until reinforcements arrived.

From the CTV website:

Far from a natural-born diplomat, however, it was his fierce fighting ability that vaulted Smith, nicknamed Smoky in school because of his running ability, into the company of royalty, presidents and prime ministers.

His actions that rainy night, when he singlehandedly fought off German tanks and dozens of troops on a road beside the Savio River, were hailed as an inspiration to all his countrymen for time immemorial.

To Smith, it was simple: kill or be killed. He was scared but he couldn't let his fear gain the best of him or he would die.

"If you're not afraid, there's something wrong with you,'' he said. "You've got to do it. Don't worry about it. "Do it.''

Bound By Gravity has a good post of his accomplishments, and his story in his
own words here. The Northwest Historical Association also details his life here.

I was honoured to meet him several years ago, and my brother had developed a bit of friendship with him over the years as he lived in the same area where he polices. He was a gruff ol' guy with a commanding presence. I felt that I had truly met someone great and noble, and his voice will stay with me always. Kinda makes you wonder who of this generation, if anyone, will be remembered in the same fashion.

Blackfive has a post up for Smokey here.

Take a minute, hell - take 5 - to remember the man, a true Canadian hero. May he
never be forgotten.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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