Dennis Smith

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Could you tell me a little about yourself? Where you were born? Where you were raised?

I was born in Crawford County Arkansas, way out in the country, in the foothills of the Boston Mountains. In those days, the mothers didn’t go to hospitals; they brought their children into this world in their home. So I lived on what they called the Rudy Route and the old doctor had to drive out to the log room where I lived. That was in December of 1929. I had a most wonderful childhood. We didn’t have much money in those days. Well, nobody did because that was the time of the Great Depression. But I didn’t know that because everyone around us was just as poor as we were. In the community where I lived everyone had free reign and the local boys could hunt and fish whenever they wanted to. So I spent a lot of time either fishing in Cedar Creek or swimming in Cedar Creek, especially during the summer time. The first six years of my schooling was in a one-room schoolhouse. We had the first six grades in one room. The entire enrollment in the one-room schoolhouse probably wouldn’t exceed 25. Then I moved to a larger school. I did my seventh and eighth grade in one year in Rudy. Then I went on to Alva, Arkansas and finished my high school there. I did one year of college at the College of the Ozarks, which is now University of the Ozarks down in Clarksville, Arkansas.

Did you join the military after college?

Yes, I did. In fact, I was only 16 when I got out of high school and I entered college at 16. The next year I was 17 so then I could join the Naval Reserve. I was in the Naval Reserve until I came to Springfield at the age of 19. In June of 1950, the Korean War broke out. In as much I had been in Springfield, I had been inactive in the Naval Reserves and that made me eligible for the draft. So I got my call to go to the Army and take my physical in late October. I was engaged to my sweetheart Carolyn Clark in those days and so I gambled a little bit. I didn’t want to go in the Army. I told Carolyn that I’d stay home until Christmas and if they didn’t call me for active duty in the Army I would go active duty in the Navy. So that is how it worked out. I spent four years in the Navy.

Where were you stationed?

When I first went in I took my recruit training in San Diego and then after getting out of the boot camp, I was reassigned to a ship I was to catch in Guam. It was a receiving station and I had to wait there two or three weeks before my ship came in. I was assigned to the USS Hewell AKL-14, which, by the way, was the same ship that was used in the movie Mister Roberts. I was on that ship for 22 months, overseas all that time and finally I got to come back to San Diego for some schooling. Then I was reassigned to another ship. It was a rocket launching ship, LSMR-403. On the way back to Korea the truce was signed and I was most happy about that. During that tenure on LSMR-403 I came down with hepatitis. I spent ten days in the British Royal Navy Hospital. I missed my ship that I had been on when I got Hepatitis and I was reassigned to the USS Delta, which was a large destroyer with about 1,000 men aboard. I was on it when I finally served my time and I was discharged from the Navy.

Did you see any action in your Navy years?

Well, yes and no. The first ship that I was on, the USS Hewell, was the only ship in the Korean conflict that had been awarded all of the 11 battle stars. I wasn’t on that ship all of the time but of the 11, I was entitled to three battle stars. Now, the reason for that was the ship I was on was carrying ammunition all of the time. We were part of the fleet that supplied direct logistic support. In 1952, I was in the Korean combat zone a portion of every month of that year. Which means I didn’t pay any income tax, which was one of the privileges. However, I didn’t see any combat even though I was in a combat zone.

What are your views on the

Korean War?

Well, it was kind of a forerunner of Vietnam. So many people back here in the states didn’t realize the magnitude of that war. Some 44,000 men lost their lives in the Korean War and it was called a “little police action” but it was far more than that. Of course in those days the North Korean armies were a part of the Communist regime to try to take over the world and most of us guys were pleased to be a part of trying to stop them. War itself is like what Churchill said, “War is Hell”, and I am never in favor of that but we got caught in a situation where we needed to.

What are your views on communist governments?

Well, with the tearing down of the Berlin Wall it was supposed to be the end of communism but in my mind the danger and the harm had already been done. I remember when communism was really putting pressure on the whole world to try to engulf it. If you will allow me to quote the Russian Premiere of those days, “We will bury you. We will bury you without firing one shot on your soil”. I think really they made tremendous inroads and pretty well accomplished that. All we have to do is look around at all of the godless people of America that no longer accept God as real and that He is only a word used to curse one another. I know that communism per se isn’t the threat it once was but a lot of damage was done in the mean time.

So, in your opinion, communism can lead to people falling away from Christianity?

Absolutely. That is just another step that Satan has thrown to the world and there are some things coming up that could easily be of the same magnitude. But I definitely think that communism has been responsible for things such as no longer being able to pray in public schools or no longer being able to have the Ten

Commandments in a public office and I think that this might be just the hem of the garment of what might come later. I’m not a prophet, but history kind of repeats itself.

What do you think of the founder of communism, Karl Marx?

I’ve never really made a detailed study of Karl Marx. I know who he was and I know of the revolution that got started because of his… platform shall we say. But it was a political idea that was from the very beginning bent on destroying the faith in God. Since he was the cause of that, naturally I would be opposed to him.

If you were to meet a communist, how would you go about converting him?

I’ll say this, it would be pretty difficult depending how deeply this idea was implanted in him before I got to talk to him. That is true about any philosophy whether it is communism or atheism or what have you. I think I would approach them from who made the flowers, who made the mountains and who made the seas. I believe the apostle Paul said that we are without excuse when we look around us. I’m sure somewhere in the back of everybody’s mind they would have to acknowledge that some power did this more than just the Big Bang theory. If we could convince a communist that he was indeed created by God and that he needs to be a follower of God we might have some success in that way.

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