104-year-old WWII veteran in Moss Point honored by Hattiesburg African American Museum

The Moss Point resident is one of the oldest African American WWII vets on record living in Jackson County at 104 years old.
Published: Oct. 23, 2023 at 5:30 PM CDT
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MOSS POINT, Miss. (WLOX) - Monday morning, WWII veteran Willie James Smith, Sr. received a special honor from the Hattiesburg African American Museum for his sacrifice and service.

With family by his side, Smith was gifted a present for his heroic contributions. He’s now one of thirty black veterans who have shared their oral history with the museum.

“Just the fact that he was still eager to share his story and that he had such a vivid memory about some of his experiences during WWII really stood out to me,” says Latoya Norman, Sixth Street Museum District Director of Museums.

The Moss Point resident is one of the oldest African-American WWII vets on record living in Jackson County. At 104 years old, says his faith keeps him going.

“You get your blessings from the Lord; you don’t get your blessings from anywhere else,” says Smith.

He enlisted into the U.S. Army in 1941 and was honorably discharged in 1945. He’s now retired and has been living with his daughter since 1996 after his wife passed away.

“I am so proud of my dad,” says Vernita Smith, daughter of Willie James Smith, Sr. “You’re going to make me cry. But, I am so proud of him; he is a strong black man. He has been in the hospital over fifteen times this year. He always comes back out strong like nothing happened.”

Smith’s century-old perspective is one his family admires and his community holds in the highest regard and now dozens more will be touched by his heroic imprint.

CEO of H.A.N.A.P. LLC Anne McMillion helped connect Smith and the museum. If you are interested in historical preservation, contact H.A.N.A.P. at h.a.n.a.p.consult@gmail.com or 601-345-1355.

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