John J Smith
T/4 in 3132nd Signal Service Co
Born 1923 in MI
Other residence(s): Hastings, MI; Allegan, MI; Nashville, MI; Woodland, MI
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
College education before the war: Dodge Institute of Telegraphy 1 year
John Smith was born on May 12, 1923 in Hastings, MI. He was the oldest of seven children; his parents were farmers in Odessa Township, MI and later in Woodland, MI.
He graduated from Woodland High School in 1940; it was at Woodland High where he met Margaret Rowlader, the woman he would eventually marry. After high school he took a one-year course in Radio Communication at the Dodge Institute of Telegraphy in Valparaiso, IN (later Valparaiso Technical Institute). There he obtained First Class Radiophone, Second Class Radiotelegraph, and General Class Amateur Radio licenses, finishing his studies just before Pearl Harbor.
He registered for the draft on June 30, 1942, at which time he was living in Allegan, MI and working for the FCC Radio Intelligence Division. He was a junior monitoring officer, checking for unauthorized and foreign radio stations.
A few months later, on September 9, 1942, John married Margaret in Allegan. Their son Thomas arrived after John was called up for active duty. He'd enlisted in December, 1943 and his radio education and work experience made him a natural for the 3132 Signal Company Special. He served in Europe with the unit, and was discharged on November 3, 1945 with the rank of T/4.
After his return, John spent 41 years both farming and working for different employers. He spent eight years at the Wilcox-Gay Corp. in Charlotte, MI as a transmitter tester, radio receiver alignment and repair technician, lab model maker, TV test and repair technician, and tape recorder assembly line supervisor (building 70,000 units for Montgomery Ward). He then spent four years in Lansing, MI as a carpenter on various building and construction projects. Finally, he worked as a millwright and carpenter for Hough Brothers in Sunfield, MI on many construction projects. In 1985, that company was a leader in the development of computer technology for feed batching for the poultry industry. They asked John to design and draw the power circuits and control circuits for the many computer-controlled feed mills which Hough was constructing for the major players in the poultry industry.
Meanwhile, on the home front, he and Margaret became the parents of six more children; after Thomas, these included Dennis, Gary, Jeanne, Janet, Joanne, and David.
In 1987 he retired to full-time farming, and then retired from that in 1993 when his sons took over Smith Farms in Woodland, MI.
In the remaining years John has stayed busy with his hobbies. He is an avid reader—especially in the areas of history, historical western fiction, politics, economics, and natural health. He is a jack of all trades—fixing things around the house and farm. He is interested in family genealogy, natural medicine, and stock trading. Although he lost his wife, Margaret, in 2009, he has many grandchildren and great-grandchildren who love him dearly. He beat colon cancer when he was 96 and is still alive (and about to turn 100!) as of this writing (February 2023).
1942 draft card
1942 marriage record
1945 Report of Separation/Honorable Discharge
1947 US city directories
1985 US Public Records
2009 wife's obituary
2023 (Feb. 10) email to Rick Beyer from John's granddaughter, Elizabeth Busk