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Medal prompts search for kin

Cloquet resident Dorraine Murphy Bakka and her children are trying to return a piece of her past to the people they feel are its rightful owners.

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Dorraine Murphy (her maiden name) and Carl Dean Smith married in Las Vegas, Nev., in 1943, then Carl went off to the war and never came home.

He was killed in action in Iwo Jima.

Dorraine moved back home to Minnesota and remarried, raising three children with her new husband in Duluth and Cloquet. A few years ago, when Dorraine (now Dorraine Bakka) was moving out of her house into an apartment at Larson Commons, she ran across her long ago husband’s Purple Heart medal. That’s when the search for any of Carl’s surviving siblings began, since Dorraine and Carl never had any children together.

“She never really got to know his family,” Dorraine’s daughter-in-law Sandra Naalsund said. “But we’ve been trying to return the medal to his side of the family for a few years now.”

Naalsund found records of Carl’s sister, Carlis Maxine (Smith) Turnbull, who died in her Pinetop, Nev., home in 2003, but she was unable to track down any of Turnbull’s four children (son James H. Turnbull of Selah, Wash., and three daughters, Maxine Ann Turnbull of Durango, Colo., Sandra (Jim) Hazelwood of Datil, N.M., and Cheryl Church of Show Low, Ariz.) and the trail went cold.

Then, last month Sandra Naalsund contacted the Pine Journal, looking for help in the search and hoping that a story might yield results. A possible brother, Lewis Smith, was located in Clovis, Calif., and Sandra is currently attempting to contact him.

From, the Pine Journal also learned that Carl Smith was awarded a Silver Star posthumously.

The account of that award follows:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Sergeant Carl D. Smith (MCSN: 452309), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Acting Tank Commander, serving with Company C, Fourth Tank Battalion, FOURTH Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, from 19 to 26 February 1945. Unhesitatingly assuming control of the tanks in his sector after his platoon leader’s vehicle was disabled by a mine, Sergeant Smith skillfully led his unit through the minefield, neutralizing several enemy machine-gun positions and pillboxes during the advance. Bravely exposing himself to the intense barrages of artillery, mortar and small-arms fire bracketing the area as he made contact with the infantry company commander and coordinated joint plans for the renewal of the assault, he boldly pushed ahead through antitank ditches, shell craters and other obstacles, delivering devastating supporting fire to the hard-pressed infantry in the crucial phase of the invasion. Although mortally wounded on 26 February, while assisting a pinned down infantry company, Sergeant Smith, by his outstanding courage and indomitable fighting spirit, contributed immeasurably to our initial success on Iwo Jima, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander in Chief, Pacific: Serial 35217 (January 10, 1946)

Editor’s note: Help from any genealogy experts in tracking down Carl Smith’s surviving relatives would be much appreciated. We have more information about his birthplace, etc., available. Please call the Pine Journal office at 218-879-1950 if you would like to help.