|Bill "Hoosier" Smith|
Hoosier in the Peleliu landing
Private First Class
Battle of Cape Gloucester
Battle of Peleliu
Deceased as of 1985
Private First Class Bill "Hoosier" Smith was a Marine in the 1st Marine Division who was wounded in Peleliu.
Hoosier was born William J. Smith on January 14, 1922 in Loogootee, Indiana to Harley and Helen Smith. Little else is known about his early history, but it is known that he enlisted in the Marines and was assigned to the 1st Marine Division and met Pfc. Robert Leckie after the latter was assigned to his regiment. Hoosier and Leckie did not get along at first due to Hoosier's often gruff attitude, but they eventually became friends, along with Pfc. Lew "Chuckler" Juergens and Pfc. Wilbur "Bud" "Runner" Conley.
Hoosier, Leckie, Chuckler, and Runner later appeared in a navy ship destined for Guadalcanal. They talked for a while before they went topside.
Battle of the Tenaru
After landing on Guadalcanal, they met little to no resistance, and the four friends decided to enjoy themselves for some time. During the battle, Hoosier served the capacity of Ammo Bearer along with Runner. After the battle Hoosier is seen placing cigarettes in his nostrils to help alleviate the stench of the dead bodies. He also gave Sid Phillips a grenade as an 18th birthday present and sang a half-mocking/half-joking version of the Happy Birthday song.
Hoosier is most notably seen with a blanket from the Navy Transport up to the Cricket Stadium. He is later seen watching the Medal of Honor ceremony and while on a cross-country march, helps remove a blister from Leckie's foot. He did not become part of Leckie's run from the MP for some reason.
After Leckie witnesses Pfc. Gibson choking a Japanese soldier to death (in a more disturbed manner than usual for the Marines) he inquires about him that night, to which Hoosier just says nonchalantly, "he's alright" before sitting down to smoke next to Pfc. Loudmouth. Hoosier is seen with Leckie in a large tent when he discovers a pistol in Leckie's belongings and asks how much does he want for it. Leckie says, "I don't even want you touching it." Hoosier becomes more visibly irritated at Leckie as he ruins his relaxation with thoughts of "fragging" Lt. Larkin.
Hoosier asks Leckie if he has his dress blues, because he might want to get spiffed up. They are holding a lottery and the prize is a ticket home, however, none of Leckie's group wins the lottery.
Prior to Peleliu, according to Leckie's memoirs, Hoosier manned the machine gun of one of the LVTs heading for Peleliu. Shortly after landing in Peleliu, Hoosier was hit by a mortar and is soon evacuated via stretcher. Shortly after, Leckie and Runner lament that they couldn't get a hold of Hoosier's status.
He doesn't make another appearance in the series afterwards, but in Leckie's memoirs it is mentioned that Hoosier reunited with Leckie and Runner some time during their stint in the hospital.
Hoosier survived his wounds in Peleliu and soon returned home after reuniting with his friends in California. He married Lela Jones. Bill and Lela had four children and were married until his death in 1985.
Personality and Traits
Hoosier is typically the more irritable and hot-headed member of his group.
- Hoosier is the only Marine depicted in the series who placed cigarettes in his nostrils. The act was similar to one of the soldiers in the movie, Thin Red Line in which he complained about the stench and thus told to place cigarettes in his nose.
- He was the first of Leckie's friends to be evacuated from Peleliu.
- Hoosier's wife, Lela, was the sister of Joe Jones, who was at Iwo Jima when the famous flag photo was taken. He was within four feet of the others in the famous photo but was not visible in it.
- In Leckie's memoir, he's the one who said: "Somebody shoot me..." for being in despair in Cape Gloucester, New Britain while in the series; it was actually Leckie who said that.
- Hoosier was one of only three on Leckie's storyline to meet Sledge, the others being Leckie himself, and Chuckler.