leather, paper, nylon, adhesive, silver and photographic gelatin on photographic paper, ink
H x W x D (Closed): 9 1/16 × 12 5/16 × 1 in. (23 × 31.2 × 2.5 cm)
H x W x D (Open): 9 1/16 × 25 1/8 × 1 in. (23 × 63.8 × 2.5 cm)
gelatin silver prints
Tuskegee, Macon County, Alabama, United States, North and Central America
Lewis Smith was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 30, 1921, and moved with his family at age seven to Los Angeles. Later he attended UCLA and took flying lessons that led to an FAA license, which he earned before joining the Army Air Corps in 1943 as an Aviation Cadet. After graduating from the Tuskegee Airmen Program at Moton Field, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on April 29, 1943. Smith was soon assigned to the U.S. Army Air Corps 99th Fighter Squadron, based, at that time, on Campodichino airfield outside Naples, Italy, from 1943 – 1944).
On January 28, 1944, Smith took part in the low level mission over Anzio beachhead that brought down four enemy aircraft, one directly credited to Smith. After flying numerous other combat missions, Smith was shot down over Poland, taken to a Prisoner of War camp in Germany, and remained there for almost 18 months, until the war ended. For his service and valor, he received the Air Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Joint Services Medal, the Purple Heart, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three Bronze Stars, and the WWII Victory Medal. He retired from the Air Force in 1968 after twenty-five years of service. In 1969 he was confirmed as a Foreign Service Officer and served at U.S. embassies in the Ivory Coast and Cambodia as Administrative Officer and Deputy Chief of Mission. Upon his return to the U.S. State Department, he became the Deputy Director of the Near East Affairs Bureau until his retirement in 1982.
A WWII era photograph album owned by Lewis Curtis Smith. The album has a tooled leather cover and contains original black and white photographs primarily depicting Smith's military service, life, and travel in Italy during World War II. The album has 32 black paper pages with photographs adhered to 21 of the pages. The last five pages of the album are blank. Many of the pages have inscriptions. The pages are held together by a nylon shoestring.