A Reno, Pennsylvania young man named Frank Smith was one of the folks who worked hard to supply those troops. His unit installed Bailey Bridges over rivers to move needed supplies to the forces. His unit was instrumental in the supply chain during the famed Battle of the Bulge, where American forces held their ground for six brutal weeks in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium against relentless German attacks.
And that was only the beginning for Smith, who was later commended for his participation in six major battles during the war.
Smith died last Saturday at the age of 93.
His last few years were spent in Oil City, where he apparently helped keep the Molson Coors Beverage Company in business. "Frank loved his Coors Light," said Janice Smith, Franks daughter-in-law.
He also took the cause of supporting active duty troops very seriously. He was a member of the local veterans' associations and each Friday - rain, snow or shine - he stood with a rag-tag group of veterans who are dedicated to the idea that those who serve are honored and remembered.
He sat in his chair, smoking his cigarettes and waving at cars going by at the corner of Petroleum and Front streets. He often held one of the American flags too.
This past Friday afternoon, a special service was held in his honor under the Veterans Bridge. Among the attendees was his son Raymond Smith from Florida.
The Venango Entombment Testimonial Service or V.E.T.S. Honor Guard made a special exception during the COVID-19 crisis to honor Smith, who wanted some of his ashes to remain in Oil City. V.E.T.S commander John Flick said the unit, made up of mostly older members, had to step back from services during this pandemic, but have made special circumstances when it was deemed there was no other way to honor the lost veteran.
This was one of those times.
A brief service was held at which time the ceremonial flag was folded and given to Raymond Smith. Then flowers were sent down the Allegheny River along with some of Frank's ashes. The group gathered for a toast, hoisting Coors Light into the air with a hearty in unison "For Frank."
Their members are getting older and some younger veterans are needed to help them fulfill their honored duties. Those who serve our country and die deserve to be properly honored, not just those who give the ultimate sacrifice of death during war, but all those who gave time serving country and ideology.
More information on military funerals and to help the V.E.T.S. Honor Guard visit their Facebook page