Ray L. Smith

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Ray L. Smith
Major General Ray L. Smith
AllegianceUnited States United States of America
Service/branchSeal of the United States Marine Corps.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service1965-1999
RankUS-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Commands held2nd Battalion, 8th Marines
8th Marine Regiment
3rd Marine Division
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
Battles/warsVietnam War
- Tet Offensive
AwardsNavy Cross
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
- Defense DSM
- Navy and Marine Corps DSM
Silver Star (2)
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star
Purple Heart (3)
Other workAuthor

Ray L. Smith is a retired United States Marine Corps major general. Smith is a highly decorated Marine who has commanded infantry units at all levels. His awards received for service in combat during the Vietnam War include the Navy Cross, two Silver Stars, the Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts. MajGen Smith retired from the Marine Corps in 1999 after almost 34 years of service. In 2003, after nearly four years of retirement, Smith went to Iraq with the 1st Marine Division; and penned an eyewitness account of the march from Kuwait to BaghdadThe March Up: Taking Baghdad with the 1st Marine Division.[1][2]

Marine Corps career[edit]

Smith is a native of Oklahoma. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in Montana in December 1965. He graduated as the Platoon and Series Honorman at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego in 1966. In March 1967, he graduated from Officer Candidates School and from The Basic School in August 1967.

Vietnam War[edit]

During his first tour in Vietnam, Lt. Smith served as a Platoon (4 months) and Company Commander (9 months) in Alpha 1/1, seeing combat action in Hue, Khe Sanh, the Rockpile, Con Thien, "Dodge City" and south of Da Nang. He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during the Tet Offensive.[1] He was awarded a second Silver Star for actions on hill 689 at KheSanh in early July.

His next assignment was in the 5th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California where he served in 3/28 as a Platoon Commander, Company Commander and as interim Aide for General Ross Dwyer. In November 1969, Lt. Smith was assigned to a one-year Vietnamese Language School in Arlington, Virginia. In late 1970, he returned to Camp Pendleton for duty on an Interrogation Team for four months and was then assigned to 2/5 until he was sent to the John F. Kennedy School of Special Warfare at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

Captain Smith returned to Vietnam in November 1971 for duty with the Marine Advisory Unit. He was with the Vietnamese Marines during the Easter Offensive and Counter Offensive of 1972.


After this tour Captain Smith was assigned as a student at the Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, Virginia and then, from 1973 to 1976, as a Company XO, SPC and Tactics Instructor at The Basic School. In July 1976, he was ordered to MEPCOM at Ft. Sheridan, Illinois, where he served two years as the Secretary to the General Staff. He was promoted to Major in August 1977.

Major Smith was selected to participate in the Bootstrap Program and reported to Oklahoma State in August 1978. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Asian Studies in January 1980 and was then transferred to the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia.

In July 1980, Major Smith reported to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and was assigned as the Executive Officer (XO) of 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines until July 1981 when he was assigned as the operation officer (S-3) of the 8th Marine Regiment. In 1983, now LtCol. Smith, after assignments as the XO of the 8th Marine Regiment and as the Assistant Chief of Staff (G-3) OPS of the 2nd Marine Division, took command of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. He commanded BLT 2/8 in Grenada and Beirut.

LtCol. Smith next attended the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island where he earned a Master's Degree in Military Science. While there, he also earned a Master's Degree in International Relations from Salve Regina College. In July 1985, he reported to Headquarters Marine Corps for assignments in Training and then in Operations. Returning to Camp Lejeune in May 1988, Lt. Col. Smith took command of the 8th Marine Regiment.

He was promoted to Colonel in November 1988. In July 1990, Colonel Smith was assigned to the Joint Staff at The Pentagon where he was Chief, Asia-Pacific Branch, J5. He was selected for promotion to brigadier general in December 1991.

As a general officer, Smith's his assignments were: Deputy Commanding General (CG), Marine Corps Bases, Japan; CG, 3rd Marine Division; Assistant Chief of Staff for Plans and Policy, CJ-5, Combined Forces Command, United States Forces Korea; Deputy CG, II MEF; CG, Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Major General Smith retired on September 1, 1999. On his last day of active duty, he gave the Convocation address at Campbell University and received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws.

In retirement[edit]

Since retiring, MajGen. Smith opened a consulting business, E-tool Enterprises, and was a partner in Neuse Timber Land Company. Smith served as the president of the board developing the Marine Corps Museum of the Carolinas, on the Board of BOLD, and the Board of Caring Communities. He has served on the Jacksonville USO Executive Council, and the Board of Jacksonville-Onslow Chamber of Commerce 2000-2001 He was also inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame and received the Downeast NCOA Mack McKinney Award. He was also a member of the North Carolina Advisory Commission on Military Affairs.

Smith is the co-author, with Bing West, of The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the 1st Marine Division. The book is an eyewitness account of the 1st Marine Division's march from Kuwait to Baghdad at the beginning of the Iraq War.[3]

Smith is a founder and currently serves as Chairman of Sandboxx, a company dedicated to providing communication and life style management tools for military members and their families.[citation needed]

Awards and decorations[edit]

General Smith's personal decorations include:

   Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg
Gold star
Gold star
1 golden star.svg 1 golden star.svg
Bronze oak leaf cluster
"V" device, gold.svg1 golden star.svg 1 golden star.svg 1 golden star.svg
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
1st Row Navy Cross Defense Distinguished Service Medal Navy Distinguished Service Medal Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
2nd Row Silver Star w/ 1 award star Legion of Merit w/ 1 award star Bronze Star w/ valor device Purple Heart w/ 2 award stars
3rd Row Defense Meritorious Service Medal w/ 1 oak leaf cluster Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ 1 award star & valor device Combat Action Ribbon w/ 2 award stars Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 2 service stars
4th Row Joint Meritorious Unit Award Navy Unit Commendation w/ 1 service star Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
5th Row National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Vietnam Service Medal w/ 3 service stars Humanitarian Service Medal
6th Row Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 3 service stars Distinguished Service Order Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ palm Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal
7th Row Order of National Security Merit, Cheon-Su Medal Vietnam Gallantry Cross unit citation Vietnam Civil Actions unit citation Vietnam Campaign Medal

Navy Cross[edit]

Captain Ray L. Smith was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions on April 1, 1972, when he was acting as an advisor to the Vietnamese Marine Corps. His citation reads:[4]

The Navy Cross is presented to Ray L. Smith, Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism during the period March 30, to April 1, 1972 while serving as advisor to a Vietnamese Command group numbering approximately 250 Vietnamese Marines located on a small hilltop outpost in the Republic of Vietnam. With the Command Group repulsing several savage enemy assaults, and subjected to a continuing hail of fire from an attacking force estimated to be of two-battalion strength, Captain Smith repeatedly exposed himself to the heavy fire while directing friendly air support. When adverse weather conditions precluded further close air support, he attempted to lead the group, now reduced to only 28 Vietnamese Marines, to the safety of friendly lines. An enemy soldier opened fire upon the Marines at the precise moment that they had balked when encountering an outer defensive ring of barbed wire. Captain Smith returned accurate fire, disposing of the attacker, and then threw himself backwards on top of the booby-trap-infested wire barrier. Swiftly, the remaining Marines moved over the crushed wire, stepping on Captain Smith's prostrate body, until all had passed safely through the barrier. Although suffering severe cuts and bruises, Captain Smith succeeded in leading the Marines to the safety of friendly lines. His great personal valor and unrelenting devotion to duty reflected the highest credit upon himself, the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.


  • MajGen Ray L. Smith, USMC (ret) and Bing West (2003). The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the 1st Marine Division. Bantam. ISBN 0-553-80376-X. ... is a first-hand account of the tactics and strategy of the war


  1. ^ a b Steinkopff, 2003.
  2. ^ Ray L. Smith and Bing West (September 9, 2003). The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the 1st Marine Division. Bantam. ISBN 0-553-80376-X.
  3. ^ Gal Perl Finkel, General Mattis: A warrior diplomat, The Jerusalem Post, December 12, 2016.
  4. ^ "US Marine Corps Awards - Vietnam". Full Text Citations For Award of The Navy Cross. HomeofHeroes.com. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-05-20.


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

Further reading[edit]

  • Jones, Charles (2006). Boys of '67: From Vietnam to Iraq, the Extraordinary Story of a Few Good Men. Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-0163-8. Recounts the lives and careers of Gen. James L. Jones, MajGen Ray L. Smith, and LtGen Martin R. Steele, from the Basic School, to Vietnam, to Iraq, to present.

External links[edit]