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61st Aggie Fatality Of World War I Is Recognized

Scot Walker '90 November 14, 2017 8:51 AM updated: March 5, 2018 9:09 AM

The 1912-13 Bugle Corps at Texas A&M. Joseph Louis Smith, Class of 1915, who died in World War I, was a member of this unit.
The 1912-13 Bugle Corps at Texas A&M. Joseph Louis Smith, Class of 1915, who died in World War I, was a member of this unit.

By Greg Bailey, Texas A&M University Libraries

Joseph Louis Smith, Class of 1915, has been identified by the Brazos County World War I Centennial Committee as making the ultimate sacrifice during World War I, bringing the total number of known Aggie fatalities from that war to 61.

Smith was born in McKinney, Texas, on Jan. 8, 1894. He attended Texas A&M from 1912 to 1913 as part of the two-year agricultural program, during which time he was a member of Company K and the Bugle Corps. After leaving college, he purchased 510 acres of government land in McCurtain County, Oklahoma, where he raised cattle, mules and hogs.

Smith was inducted into military service at Camp Bowie, near Fort Worth, on May 29, 1918, and assigned to Company L, 143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th U.S. Division. Following his training, Smith departed for France on July 18, 1918, aboard the Dante Alighieri.

He fought at St. Mihiel and St. Etienne before succumbing to pneumonia. He died on Oct. 31, 1918. Initially buried in France, Smith was reinterred at Pecan Grove Cemetery in McKinney in 1921.

Smith was identified by Bill Page ’76, Texas A&M library associate, and confirmed by Tara Jirinec, information services manager for The Association of Former Students, while they were working on a project to identify all Aggie casualties in U.S. conflicts.

Texas A&M history has long held that 55 former students were killed in World War I, but on Memorial Day earlier this year, the committee announced the discovery of five former students who died during the First World War, but whose names were never included on any memorial. They are:

  • John W. Butts, Class of  1910
  • Herbert R. Florence, Class of 1911
  • Joseph Z. Sawyer, Class of 1916
  • Ira W. South, Class of 1917
  • George W. Splawn, Class of 1917

The recognition of these five brought the total number of Aggies who died in World War I to 60, and the discovery of Smith's story now brings it to 61.

Media contact: Greg Bailey, Texas A&M library archivist and curator, at 979-845-1951 or; or Elena Watts, Texas A&M marketing and communications specialist, at 979-458-8412 or

This story first appeared on Texas A&M Today.

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