World War II top gunner Clarence Smoyer, 1923-2022

Clarence Smoyer poses with me at a luncheon of the Lehigh Valley Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge on October 15, 2019.

Clarence Smoyer came from coal country, went to war in a tank and became a hero on the urban battleground of Cologne, Germany.

On Friday, September 30, he died at his home in Allentown, Pennsylvania, at the age of ninety-nine.

I met Clarence in 2019 while he was giving talks about his World War II experiences as a gunner in the 3rd Armored Division. His story was chronicled that year in the bestselling book Spearhead by Adam Makos.

Here’s my tribute to Clarence that was posted by his hometown newspaper, The Morning Call.

8 responses to “World War II top gunner Clarence Smoyer, 1923-2022

  1. I truly enjoy you writing style and character development. Good story told in an entertaining style. Well done.


  2. Clarence will be remembered, David.


  3. I enjoyed reading your latest WW2 story!!


  4. Thanks David for your continued efforts to declare thankfulness towards our veterans. Yes, the memories never go away and in a sense that’s ok because I don’t ever want to diminish/forget what my dear friends have sacrificed. As my story said,……I still take the shortcut up to my hometown of Kresgeville in order to go by Whitey’s tombstone. Here is a story that has always impressed me immensely. I don’t know if I had ever shared it with you but here it is. One day out in the boonies I noticed a continuing collection of guys gathering in a circle. I asked a guy from our company what was going on and he replied and asked if I knew Fess Parker from Disneyland. I said yeah, and he said that he is over there where the men were gathering. I said , yeah sure in a negative tone whereby he said …”No he is there from the USO.” I didn’t say anything and decided to walk on over there anyway. When I got there the men were all in a circle without the ability to see into the center. So I squatted into a low position and moved to the inside edge of the circle. THERE WAS NOBODY THERE. But all the men were looking as though right back at me. I knew immediately that they were looking in my very direction. BUT WHY. Until I looked to my left and who do you think was standing totally next to me. Yup, you are right. FESS PARKER. I just stood there and nobody was saying anything. But just then Fess Parker says in that very low, soft voice,….”Men, I just want you to know that wherever I go out here the moral is really high!” IMMEDIATELY, a GI from across the circle SCREAMED, and I mean SCREAMED at him and replied in the loudest of voice……HIGH, HIGH OUR MORAL IS SO LOW OUT HERE, WE’RE WALKING ON IT.” The very next moment they grabbed him under his armpits and moved him off. NOT THE GUY THAT SCREAMED AT HIM but Fess Parker himself. They placed him immediately on a chopper and flew him off. The takeaway was easy to understand. Fess Parker was trying to be nice, BUT HE HAD NO IDEA WHAT WE WERE GOING THROUGH. Something I nor I’m sure those that were there that day will EVER FORGET.


    • Hey Chip, no, you never told me that story, and it’s a really good one. Fess Parker gets to Vietnam with the USO, tries to be encouraging and to say the right thing, but gets slammed so hard, he has to be hauled away from you. The TV Daniel Boone didn’t have a clue as to what you had to go through. As for me, I can only imagine it. … Do you still go to the VA clinic? I’m still driving the van to Wilkes-Barre after six years. It’s all about payback.


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