Know Your Medal of Honor Recipients:
Major John Lucian Smith (US Marine Corps) received his Medal of Honor for his actions from August-September 1942, in the Solomon Islands area. His citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and heroic achievement in aerial combat above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of Marine Fighting Squadron 223 during operations against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands area, August-September 1942. Repeatedly risking his life in aggressive and daring attacks, Maj. 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 Maj. 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 U.S. Naval Service.
Lt. Colonel/Commissary of Subsistence Joseph S. Smith (US Army) received his Medal of Honor for his actions on October 27, 1864, at Hatchers Run, Virginia. His citation reads:
Led a part of a brigade, saved 2 pieces of artillery, captured a flag, and secured a number of prisoners.
Sergeant Maynard H. Smith (US Army) received his Medal of Honor for his actions on May 1, 1943, over Europe. His citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty. The aircraft of which Sgt. Smith was a gunner was subjected to intense enemy antiaircraft fire and determined fighter airplane attacks while returning from a mission over enemy-occupied continental Europe on 1 May 1943. The airplane was hit several times by antiaircraft fire and cannon shells of the fighter airplanes, 2 of the crew were seriously wounded, the aircraft's oxygen system shot out, and several vital control cables severed when intense fires were ignited simultaneously in the radio compartment and waist sections. The situation became so acute that 3 of the crew bailed out into the comparative safety of the sea. Sgt. Smith, then on his first combat mission, elected to fight the fire by himself, administered first aid to the wounded tail gunner, manned the waist guns, and fought the intense flames alternately. The escaping oxygen fanned the fire to such intense heat that the ammunition in the radio compartment began to explode, the radio, gun mount, and camera were melted, and the compartment completely gutted. Sgt. Smith threw the exploding ammunition overboard, fought the fire until all the firefighting aids were exhausted, manned the workable guns until the enemy fighters were driven away, further administered first aid to his wounded comrade, and then by wrapping himself in protecting cloth, completely extinguished the fire by hand. This soldier's gallantry in action, undaunted bravery, and loyalty to his aircraft and fellow crewmembers, without regard for his own personal safety, is an inspiration to the U.S. Armed Forces.
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Yesterday our countdown took us “across the pond”… today our countdown is going to take us on the pond. Growing up on an island like I did gave me a great appreciation of the Navy. That’s not really true at all… Reading books and watching classics like Midway gave me a great appreciation of the Navy. Growing up on an island gave me a great appreciation of the fact that the ocean is filled with things that want to eat me or kill me in some other way. You will notice, I’m sure, that the men on my list are all from around the same era… part of this is because I feel like that is when the Navy (and naval warfare) was at its height. Part of it might also be because most Navy books I’ve read have been from this era. Whatever the case, I’m sure it is possible that I missed a great Admiral, but all in all I think I’ve got a pretty solid Top 5 list here…
The I'm just sayin… Countdown May List of the Day
Top 5 American Admirals of All-Time
5 William D. Leahy Years of Service: 1897-1939, 1942-1959; Battles/wars: Spanish-American War, Boxer Rebellion, WWI, Greco-Turkish War, WWII; Rank: 5 Star Fleet Admiral After serving as the US Ambassador to France from 1940-1942, he was recalled to active duty and served as the personal Chief of Staff to President Roosevelt. As you can see if you click on that link, he chaired the Chiefs of Staff and was a major decision-maker during WWII. He was the highest-ranking member of the US military from 1942-1949 (when he retired).
4 Thomas C. Kinkaid Years of Service: 1908-1950; Battles/wars: WWI, Dominican Republic (1916), Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922), WWII (Battle of the Coral Sea, Battle of Midway, Battle of the Eastern Solomons, Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Aleutian Islands campaign, Admiralty Islands campaign, Western New Guinea campaign, Battle of Leyte Gulf, Philippines campaign (1944-1945), Chinese Civil War; Rank: 4 Star Admiral Interesting little tidbit - His brother-in-law (not listed) was Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel (if you don't know who he was, look him up). Anyway, Admiral Kinkaid had a reputation as a "fighting admiral" and took part in just about every major naval battle of WWII. On a side note, his second command in 1937 was the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis (if you want to know what later happened to that ship, watch Jaws).
3 William F. Halsey, Jr. Years of Service: 1904-1959; Battles/wars: WWI (First Battle of the Atlantic), WWII (Pacific War); Rank: Fleet Admiral "Bull" Halsey was a fullback on the Naval Academy football team. That's not the reason he's on here. He is on here in part because of the role he played as he took command of the South Pacific area and South Pacific forces right before the Battle for Guadalcanal. He played a huge role in the US Naval success during WWII. A very good book (which deals with a part of his command that probably isn't a highlight) is called "Halsey's Typhoon"... Everyone should read it. Unless you are about to go on a cruise... I'd wait to read it until after you get back.
2 Raymond A. Spruance Years of Service: 1907-1948; Battles/wars: WWI, WWII (Battle of Midway, Battle of the Philippine Sea, Battle of Iwo Jima, Battle of Okinawa); Rank: 4 Star Admiral Spruance commanded US naval forces during two of the most significant naval battles that took place in the Pacific, the Battle of Midway and the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Based on the movie (and multiple books), the Battle of Midway was a turning point of the Pacific war.
1 Chester W. Nimitz Years of Service: 1905-1966; Battles/wars: WWI, WWII (Battle of the Coral Sea, Battle of Midway, Solomon Islands campaign, Battle of the Philippine Sea, Battle of Leyte Gulf, Battle of Iwo Jima, Battle of Okinawa); Rank: 5 Star Fleet Admiral He played a major role in the naval history of World War II as Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet (CinCPac), for U.S. naval forces and Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas (CinCPOA), for U.S. and Allied air, land, and sea forces during World War II. He also oversaw the conversion of these vessels' propulsion from gasoline to diesel, and then later was key to acquiring approval to build the world's first nuclear-powered submarine, USS Nautilus, whose propulsion system later completely superseded diesel-powered submarines in the U.S. He was the United States' last surviving officer who served in the rank of fleet admiral. And, honestly, he has a pretty cool name.
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