On 17 January 2015, Purple Hearts Reunited presented PFC Alvin T. Smith’s medals in a frame to the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum in St. Louis, MO. Purple Hearts Reunited gave the medal to the city, represented by Mr. Freddie Dunlap, and it was entrusted to Dr. Lynnea Magnuson, Superintendent of the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum, for safekeeping and to be displayed to the public.
Alvin T. Smith was born on 21 November 1921 in St. Louis, MO to Thomas and Virginia Smith. On 30 November 1942, he enlisted in the Army at Jefferson Barracks, MO. During World War II, Smith served in the Army with Company L, 168th Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division. The young soldier was killed in action during defensive operations at Anzio Beach Head, Italy on 02 May 1944. He was awarded a Purple Heart posthumously. PFC Smith’s additional decorations include the Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal w/ Campaign Star, World War II Victory Medal, and Combat Infantry Badge.
PFC Smith’s Purple Heart medal was discovered in a recycling bin at a Sherman, TX apartment complex. Mrs. Juli Whittaker, a member of the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy and the operator of Genealogy Safari was able to track down PFC Smith’s nephew, Mr. Jim Brueggenjohan. Whittaker submitted a report about the lost medal to Purple Hearts Reunited, and the organization contacted Brueggenjohan. Brueggenjohan explained that PFC Smith had a son, who adopted the name Alvin Thomas Brinkman, and had passed away in TX. Brueggenjohan and family requested that Purple Hearts Reunited find a home of honor for the medal in PFC Smith’s hometown of St. Louis, MO.
After visiting PFC Smith’s gravesite in Zion Cemetery, Purple Hearts Reunited founder Zachariah Fike hosted the ceremony. The museum staff was humbled to have their first artifacts from a soldier that was KIA, as the public can now walk across the street to the memorial wall with Alvin T. Smith’s name on it, in order to pay homage to the museum display they had just seen.