ENS Orville Stanley Smith

Unknown Sailor

ENS Orville Stanley Smith

Orville Stanley Smith was valedictorian at Iraan High School in west Texas in 1933. He became a bookkeeper for a car dealer until one day on a business trip to El Paso 280 miles to the west he walked into a Navy recruiting office and enlisted. He thought it was his “chance to move up in the world,” a friend recalled years later. Iraan had been an oil boom town from 1926 on, but with a population of about 1,600 by 1930.

Orville served a year in the Navy before he passed the test for entrance into the Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1940.

The Lucky Bag, the Academy’s yearbook, described him as “Good natured, serious minded, but not too serious to appreciate even the worst joke…. Ambitious but not a cutthroat.”

He was an ensign assigned to the junior watch on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

Mr. Smith was born June 13, 1916. His father, William, managed a garage and his mother, Buelah Mae Smith, was a homemaker. They divorced before 1937.

HIs friend, George L. Blumentritt, said he was “always more mature than his age” and was gifted in math and science.


Sources: “The Lucky Bag”; Oklahoma Historical Society; Iraan (Texas) News; Census; Enid (Oklahoma) News; Oklahoma marriage record; Abilene (Texas) Reporter News. Yearbook photograph. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.

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