The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients

Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom

United States Marine Corps
Larry Smedley



Corporal Larry E. Smedley
United States Marine Corps

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, First Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division, in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On the evenings of 20-21 December 1967, Corporal Smedley led his six-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 122 mm 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, Corporal 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 attackĀ  on the numerically superior enemy force. A heavy volume of fire from an enemy machine gun positioned on the left flank of the squad inflicted several casualties on Corporal Smedley's unit. Simultaneously. an enemy rifle grenade exploded nearby, wounding him in the right foot and knocking him to the ground. Corporal 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 machine gun emplacement, firing his rifle and throwing hand 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 one-man assault against the enemy position. Although his aggressive and single-handed attack resulted in the destruction of the machine gun, he was struck in the chest by enemy fire and fell mortally wounded. Corporal 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 United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Richard M. Nixon
President of the United States

Larry Eugene Smedley, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in Vietnam in December 1967, was born 4 March 1949, in Front Royal, Virginia. He attended elementary schools in Berryville, Virginia, Augusta, Georgia; Union Park, Florida; and Howard Junior High School in Union Park, leaving the latter in 1964.

He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, 18 March 1966, at Orlando, Florida, then reported to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, and underwent recruit training with the 1st Recruit Training Battalion. In July 1966, he completed individual combat training with the 2d Infantry Training Battalion, 1st Infantry Training Regiment, Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Upon completion of recruit training, Pvt Smedley served as a rifleman and fire team leader with Companies D and C, respectively, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, 2d Marine Division, Camp Lejeune. He was promoted to private first class, 1 September 1966, and to lance corporal, 1 January 1967.

In July 1967, LCpl Smedley arrived in the Republic of Vietnam. He was assigned duty as a rifleman and squad radio man with Company D, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, and was promoted to corporal, 1 September 1967. While on patrol in Quang Nam Province on 21 December 1967, he was mortally wounded.

His medals and decorations include: the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Return to Main Page