Ralph C. Smith
|Ralph Corbett Smith|
November 27, 1893|
South Omaha, Nebraska, United States
|Died||January 21, 1998
Palo Alto, California, United States
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1916–1948|
|Commands held||1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment
27th Infantry Division
98th Infantry Division
|Awards||Silver Star with Oak-Leaf Cluster
Major General Ralph Corbett Smith (November 27, 1893 – January 21, 1998) was a senior officer of the United States Army. After receiving early training as a pilot from Orville Wright he served Brigadier General John J. Pershing's army against Pancho Villa, became decorated for bravery in World War I and commanded the 27th Infantry Division in combat in the Pacific War in World War II. At his death Smith was the oldest surviving general officer of the Army.
Born in Nebraska, Smith attended Colorado State College and served in the Colorado National Guard. He was an early aviator and was given flying lessons, as a young officer, by Orville Wright, and his pilot's license, signed by Wright, bore the number 13 because he was the 13th person to receive one.
He was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Infantry Branch of the United States Army in 1916 and was involved in the Army's unsuccessful Mexican Punitive Expedition, whose Commanding General (CG) was Brigadier General John Pershing, against Pancho Villa, just before the American entry into World War I in early April 1917.
During World War I Smith was awarded the Silver Star with an Oak-Leaf Cluster for two instances of bravery while serving with the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) on the Western Front. He was sent overseas with the 16th Infantry Regiment, part of the 1st Division towards the end of 1917, later being transferred to the 4th Infantry Division. He was wounded in action in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in the latter half of 1918 and served in occupation duties in Germany after the war.
He was a temporary colonel when the United States entered World War II in December 1941. In 1942, promoted to brigadier general, he served as an assistant division commander of the 76th Infantry Division and later became a major general and took command of the 27th Infantry Division. In 1943, his division captured Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands while fighting in the Pacific, which became the first central Pacific island to be reconquered by the Allies. In 1944, his division took part in the hard struggle for the mountainous island of Saipan in the western Pacific during which he was relieved of his command by Lieutenant General Holland Smith of the U.S. Marine Corps, commander of the V Amphibious Corps. Marine General Smith contended that under Army General Smith the 27th Division had "failed to attack on time," costing vital Marine lives to save the island.
An all-Army board of inquiry later exonerated Smith, and he went on to briefly command the 98th Infantry Division before going on to serve as the military attaché at the United States Embassy in Paris and CARE's chief of mission for France. While he worked for CARE he also oversaw operations in other western European countries.
Smith retired from the Army in 1948.
He died in 1998 of a lung ailment.
His first wife, Madeleine, died in 1975.
In 1980, he remarried, to Hildy Jarman, she died in 1995.
- Pace, E. (1998) " Gen. Ralph C. Smith, Honored For War Bravery, Dies at 104", The New York Times. January 26, 1998. Retrieved 5/9/08.
- "The Generals Smith", TIME Magazine. September 18, 1944. Retrieved 5/9/08.
- Goldberg, Harold J. (2007). D-day in the Pacific: The Battle of Saipan. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34869-2.
- Hyperwar The War in the Pacific. Campaign In the Marianas 
- Smith v. Smith 
- Howlin' Mad Vs. the Army: Conflict in Command, Saipan 1944 
- Ralph Corbett Smith papers, Hoover Institution Archives, 
|Commanding General 27th Infantry Division
George Wesley Griner, Jr.
George Wesley Griner, Jr.
|Commanding General 98th Infantry Division
July 1944–August 1944