PEOPLE--UNITED STATES

Colonel John L. Smith, USMC, (1914-1972)

John Lucian Smith was born on 26 December 1914 in Lexington, Oklahoma. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma and was appointed a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps from that state in July 1936. Completing Basic School at the Marine Barracks, Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pennsylvania, he had several east coast area assignments before entering flight training at Naval Air Station, Pensacola. In July 1939 he was designated a Naval Aviator and promoted to First Lieutenant. He was promoted to Captain in March 1941 and to Major in August 1942.

While in command of Marine Fighting Squadron 223 (VMF-223) during the first two months of the Guadalcanal campaign, Smith agressively operated against Japanese bombers and fighters. Between 21 August and 15 September he was personally credited with shooting down 16 enemy planes and his squadron was credited with a total of 83, contributing significantly to Japan's inability to drive U.S. forces from Guadalcanal. For his "conspicuous gallantry and heroic achievement " during much of this period, Major Smith was awarded the Medal of Honor.

After leaving Guadalcanal, Smith served in Washington, D.C., then deployed back to the Pacific and became Executive Officer of Marine Aircraft Group 32 (MAG-32). During late 1944 and the first half of 1945, he participated in aerial offensives in Bismarck Archipelago, northeast of New Guinea, then went to the Philippines for combat duty on Luzon, Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. Returning to the U.S. in mid-1945, he was stationed at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida and at Quantico, Virginia.

Smith performed a variety of aviation duties in the United States, Cuba and Europe during the later 1940s. At the end of the decade he was the Marine Corps Aide to the Chief of the Naval Operations in Washington, D.C. In January 1951, he was promoted to Colonel and joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) staff. Following a brief tour with Marine Training Group 10 at Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, California, in July 1953 Colonel Smith went to Korea, where he commanded Marine Aircraft Group 33 (MAG-33) and later served with the First Marine Aircraft Wing. After returning to the U.S. in 1954, he was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps, attended the National War College and was a member of the Advanced Research Group at Quantico. In mid-1956, he became Liaison Officer on the Staff of the Chief of Naval Air Training at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida. John L. Smith retired from active duty in September 1960. He died at Encino, California on 10 June 1972 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

This page features all the images we have concerning John L. Smith.

Photo #: 80-G-16845

Major John L. Smith, USMC


Photographed circa 1942.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 43KB; 580 x 765 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-398900

Major John L. Smith, USMC


In the cockpit of an aircraft at Naval Air Station, Anacostia, Washington, D.C. in November 1942.
He received the Medal of Honor for shooting down 16 Japanese aircraft in the Solomon Islands in August-September 1942, while in command of Marine Fighting Squadron Two Hundred Twenty Three (VMF-223).

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 35KB; 675 x 765 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: NH 106454

Major John L. Smith, USMC


Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 262.
John L. Smith was awarded the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and heroic achievement" while commanding Marine Fighting Squadron Two Hundred Twenty Three (VMF-223) during operations against the Japanese in the Guadalcanal Campaign, August -- September 1942.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 51KB; 580 x 765 pixels

 
Photo #: 80-G-398899

Major John L. Smith, USMC


At Naval Air Station, Anacostia, Washington, D.C. in November 1942.
He received the Medal of Honor for shooting down 16 Japanese aircraft in the Solomon Islands in August-September 1942, while in command of Marine Fighting Squadron Two Hundred Twenty Three (VMF-223).

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 40KB; 625 x 765 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-K-15412 (Color)

Major John L. Smith, USMC


In an aircraft cockpit at Naval Air Station, Anacostia, Washington D.C. in November 1942.
He received the Medal of Honor for shooting down 16 Japanese aircraft in the Solomons in August-September 1942, while in command of Marine Fighting Squadron Two Hundred Twenty Three (VMF-223).

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 45KB; 585 x 765 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-398897

Major John L. Smith, USMC,
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Mangrum, USMC,
and
Captain Marion E. Carl, USMC
(Pictured left to right)

At Naval Air Station, Anacostia, Washington, D.C. 10 November 1942.
All were Marine Corps Aviators.
Major Smith had received the Medal of Honor for shooting down 16 Japanese aircraft in the Solomons earlier in the year.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 52KB; 740 x 565 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 


Medal of Honor citation of Major John Lucian Smith, USMC (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 262):

"For conspicuous gallantry and heroic achievement in aerial combat above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of Marine Fighting Squadron TWO HUNDRED TWENTY THREE during operations against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands Area, August-September 1942. Repeatedly risking his life in aggressive and daring attacks, Major Smith led his squadron against a determined force, greatly superior in numbers, personally shooting down 16 Japanese planes between 21 August and 15 September 1942. In spite of the limited combat experience of many of the pilots of this squadron, they achieved the notable record of a total of 83 enemy aircraft destroyed in this period, mainly attributable to the thorough training under Major Smith and to his intrepid and inspiring leadership. His bold tactics and indomitable fighting spirit, and the valiant and zealous fortitude of the men of his command not only rendered the enemy's attacks ineffective and costly to Japan, but contributed to the security of our advance base. His loyal and courageous devotion to duty sustains and enhances the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service. "


For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions

To the best of our knowledge, the pictures referenced here are all in the Public Domain, and can therefore be freely downloaded and used for any purpose.





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