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Wednesday, December 21, 2011
TFH 12/21: Corporal Larry Eugene Smedley, USMC
On this day in 1967, one courageous 18-year old United States Marine led his six-man squad against an enemy force nearly twenty times as large. He ignored his wounds, and kept up the attack. He gave his life for us, and was recognized with our Nation's highest honor.
*SMEDLEY, LARRY E.
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Company D, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. Place and date: Quang Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam, 21 December 1967. Entered service at: Orlando, Fla. Born: 4 March 1949, Front Royal, Va. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a squad leader with company D, in connection with operations against the enemy. On the evenings of 20-21 December 1967, Cpl. Smedley led his 6-man squad to an ambush site at the mouth of Happy Valley, near Phouc Ninh (2) in Quang Nam Province. Later that night an estimated 100 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army regulars, carrying 122mm rocket launchers and mortars, were observed moving toward Hill 41. Realizing this was a significant enemy move to launch an attack on the vital Danang complex, Cpl. Smedley immediately took sound and courageous action to stop the enemy threat. After he radioed for a reaction force, he skillfully maneuvered his men to a more advantageous position and led an attack on the numerically superior enemy force. A heavy volume of fire from an enemy machinegun positioned on the left flank of the squad inflicted several casualties on Cpl. Smedley's unit. Simultaneously, an enemy rifle grenade exploded nearby, wounding him in the right foot and knocking him to the ground. Cpl. Smedley disregarded this serious injury and valiantly struggled to his feet, shouting words of encouragement to his men. He fearlessly led a charge against the enemy machinegun emplacement, firing his rifle and throwing grenades, until he was again struck by enemy fire and knocked to the ground. Gravely wounded and weak from loss of blood, he rose and commenced a 1-man assault against the enemy position. Although his aggressive and singlehanded attack resulted in the destruction of the machinegun, he was struck in the chest by enemy fire and fell mortally wounded. Cpl. Smedley's inspiring and courageous actions, bold initiative, and selfless devotion to duty in the face of certain death were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Corporal Smedley rests today with so many other of our honored dead in Arlington National Cemetery. He is also memorialized on Panel 32E, Line 40 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.