WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - People gathered Saturday in Southport to remember a beloved World War Two soldier who was an icon of his community for decades.
James “Jimmy” C. Smith died on Monday, just days before he was set to receive a Bronze Star for heroic service. He was 94.
Smith was no stranger to awards, he has earned many from his time server overseas, including two Purple Hearts with a third one on the way.
Smith fought in Normandy, with his final battle being the Battle of the Bulge. Every member of his unit was captured except for him. He got frostbite on his feet during the winter from trying to escape.
His son and daughter were there to accept his achievement, Saturday. His son, James Smith Jr. said, whether it was in service or as a father, his dad was always a hero no matter what he did.
“He just loved living, he was a fighter, said Smith. "Every time I thought it was over he bounced back, every time I thought it was over he bounced back, he was just like Rocky, kept getting knocked down and he just bounced back. But eventually it was his time to go.”
The funeral for the veteran will be held Sunday at Ocean view United Methodist Church.