A lost Purple Heart, found in a rental car by Mrs. Julia Obici, returned home to the younger (and only living) sibling of World War II veteran Chief Carpenter Thomas Hoy Smith. Obici contacted the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), which worked with Zachariah Fike at Purple Hearts Reunited to return the medal to its rightful owner. Judy Smith Daily, the 87-year-old sister, is thrilled to receive the medal to commemorate her dear older brother’s service and sacrifice.

Thomas Hoy Smith was one of ten children, and came from the small town of Livingston, TN. He was the first child to leave home, and served in the Navy on the USS Saratoga. On 21 February, 1945, a kamikaze attack devastated the carrier Saratoga (CV 3) operating off Iwo Jima, leaving 123 members of her crew killed in action or missing in action. Among those KIA was CHF CARP Thomas Hoy Smith (who went by Hoy to his family).

From Chief Carpenter Smith’s younger sister, Judy, who received the medal:

Hoy came home in September 1944, which was his last visit. He talked a lot about his ship, the Saratoga Aircraft Carrier. He told my parents how safe it was and they didn’t have to worry about him. With Hoy in the Navy, along with another brother in the Navy, and a third brother in the Army stationed in Germany, we knew he was just trying to keep the family from worrying about him. On February 21, 1945, we found out how safe it was. That day he lost his life when kamikaze planes hit the ship.


Hoy loved serving his country and loved the Navy life, especially serving on the Saratoga. He was such a sweet, caring brother. I was twelve years younger than him when he made his last visit. During that visit, he wanted to know what I planned on doing and I told him I had always wanted to be a hair dresser, but I did not have the money for school. The closest school was in Nashville, Tennessee which was 100 miles away. He told me “if that is what you want to do, then I will pay for it”. So I could not wait until October when the next class started.


I was so sorry he was killed before I finished beauty school. He had a big heart and because of that I was able to work as a hair dresser for many years. I am 87 years old and still cut hair for my grandsons and great grandsons, all thanks to my great brother.


Thank you very much for everything you did in locating our family to return my brother’s Purple Heart Medal. You can not imagine how thrilled we all were and so grateful after so many years; I just cannot believe it.

Thomas Hoy Smith PH         HoySmith_USS_Saratoga_Kamikaze_hit_21_February_1945