Elmelindo Rodrigues Smith
|Elmelindo Rodrigues Smith|
SFC. Elmelindo Rodrigues Smith, Medal of Honor recipient
July 27, 1935|
|Died||February 16, 1967
Republic of Vietnam
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1953–1967|
|Rank||Sergeant First Class (posthumous)|
|Unit||1st Platoon, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division|
|Battles/wars||Vietnam War †|
|Awards||Medal of Honor
Sergeant First Class Elmelindo Rodrigues Smith [note 1] (July 27, 1935 – February 16, 1967) born in Wahiawa, Hawaii, was a United States Army soldier, of Hispanic-Asian descent, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Vietnam War. Despite being severely wounded, Smith inspired his men to beat back an enemy assault.
Smith, an American of Hispanic/Asian descent, was born in Wahiawā a town located in the center of Oahu Island in the County of Honolulu. There he received his primary and secondary education graduating from Leilehua High School. He joined the United States Army in 1953 and was stationed in various countries overseas, among them was Okinawa.
On July 23, 1966, Smith was sent to the Republic of Vietnam and served as Platoon Sergeant of the 1st Platoon, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry of the 4th Infantry Division. The division conducted combat operations in the western Central Highlands along the border between Cambodia and Vietnam. The division experienced intense combat against North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regular forces in the mountains surrounding Kontum.
On February 16, 1967, Sergeant Rodrigues Smith was leading his platoon in a reconnaissance patrol, when suddenly it came under attack. NVA forces attacked the patrol with machinegun, mortar and rocket fire. Despite the fact that he was wounded, he coordinated a counterattack by positioning his men and distributing ammunition. He was struck by a rocket, but continued to expose himself in order to direct his men's fire upon the approaching enemy. Even though he perished from his wounds, his actions resulted in the defeat of the enemy.
For his actions, he was recommended for the Medal of Honor. In October 1968, his family received the medal from the hands of Secretary of the Army Stanley R. Resor, because President Lyndon B. Johnson was ill at the time. However, after the ceremony, which was held at the White House, the family which included his widow Jane and two daughters, Kathleen 10 and Pamela 6, were taken to President Johnson's bedroom.
Medal of Honor citation
Sergeant First Class Elmelindo Rodrigues Smith's remains were buried with full military honors in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific located in Honolulu, Hawaii. His name is inscribed in the Vietnam War Memorial located in Washington, D.C. in Panel 15E – Row 051.
Awards and recognitions
Among Smith's decorations and medals were the following:
||National Defense Service Medal|
|Vietnam Service Medal||Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with palm||Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal|
Foreign unit decorations
- This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Smith and the second or maternal family name is Rodrigues.
- Somos Primos; December 2007; Dedicated to Hispanic Heritage and Diversity Issues, Society of Hispanic Historical and Ancestral Research
- Rodrigues a surname of Spanish origin
- John L. Johnson (18 April 2012). Every Night & Every Morn: Portraits of Asian, Hispanic, Jewish, African American, and Native American Recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor from the Civil War to the War on Terror. BookBaby. pp. 147–148. ISBN 978-0-9799572-4-6.
- News Tribune, Tacoma WA ( 21 Feb 1967)
- News Tribune, Tacoma WA
- St. Petersburg Times
- Rodrigues Smith's Medal of Honor citation
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs
- "American Forces News Information". Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved September 29, 2010.
- "U.S. ARMY Medal of Honor recipients, Vietnam". Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. Retrieved September 29, 2010.
- "Home Town Heroes from the State of Hawaii". Retrieved September 29, 2010.
- "Elmelindo Rodrigues Smith". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. Retrieved 2007-12-15.