The world was deep in depression. The clouds of war were forming over the Pacific as the Japanese war machine was preparing for war. A young man from a small town on Maryland’s isolated Eastern Shore had just graduated high school and was struggling to find work while trying to figure out if he could go to college. Living briefly with his older brother he soon learned that jobs were scarce and any thoughts of college were just dreams. Alex Smoot enlisted in the Army to take the burden off his family of supporting him while hoping to be able to contribute something to their sustenance from his Army pay.
The struggles of this young 19th Infantry soldier are detailed in a treasure of his own words depicting his experiences in preparing the defense of Hawaii while trying to cope with the harshness of the Great Depression. Anecdotal stories abound about a young soldier’s travails and treasured moments while stationed so far from home for three years with only letters to link him to his family. This is a story of an American family during one of the harshest of times in our history.
Geoffrey Smooth is Alexander Smoot’s oldest son. Publishing these letters is related to his desire to preserve his father’s legacy but also to offer an opportunity for students of history to have a firsthand prime resource which would enable a better understanding of what individuals and families endured during these challenging times.
Geoffrey is a retired history teacher, B.S. Ed. Penn State (1966), and a Master’s from Salisbury University (1972). He served four years in the U.S. Coast Guard (1958-62) as an Aerographer’s Mate before attending college. He was a longtime baseball coach at Bennett High in Salisbury, MD. Married (Beverly) with two sons, a daughter, and four grandchildren. Currently retired, he is active in his church and also in community concerns.