Albert Smith was born on July 31, 1898, in Calumet, Michigan. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on October 13, 1919, in Detroit, Michigan, and served as a Marine Guard. Then Private Smith was awarded the Medal of Honor on September 29, 1921, for his heroic actions on February 11, 1921, at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. He was credited with saving MM2 Pleen M. Phelps (misspelled Plen in Smith's Medal of Honor citation) from a burning seaplane, but he died the same day from injuries received in the crash. This was one of the rare peacetime awards of the Medal of Honor to a Marine. Sgt. Smith received an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps on October 22, 1922, and died on March 27, 1973. He was buried at the Grand Lawn Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan.
His Medal of Honor Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism displayed in the line of his profession on the morning of 11 February 1921. At about 7:30 a.m. on the above date, Smith, while on duty as a sentry, rescued Plen M. Phelps, late machinist's mate, second class, United States Navy, #2672213, from a burning seaplane, H-16, No. 848, which had fallen near his post, Gate No. 1, marine barracks, Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fla. Despite the explosion of the gravity gasoline tank, with total disregard for personal safety, he pushed himself to a position where he could reach Machinist's Mate Phelps, who was pinned beneath the burning wreckage, and rescued him from the burning plane, in the performance of which he sustained painful burns about the head, neck, and both hands.