Medal of Honor Monday: Marine Corps Cpl. Larry Smedley

By Katie Lange

Medal of Honor Monday

USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- On the 106th anniversary of Congress authorizing the Medal of Honor for sailors and Marines, young Marine Corps Cpl. Larry Smedley earned it by giving his life to protect his comrades in Vietnam.

Marine Corps Cpl. Larry Smedley
Marine Corps Cpl. Larry Smedley

Smedley was born on March 4, 1949, in Front Royal, Virginia. When he was young, his family moved him and his two siblings to Georgia before settling in Union Park, Florida, just outside of Orlando. Smedley’s family said he was really interested in the military, so, in 1966, the 17-year-old dropped out of high school and joined the Marine Corps.

Smedley first served as a rifleman and fire team leader with the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. By July 1967, he was in Vietnam. Two months into his deployment, Smedley was promoted to corporal and served as a rifleman and squad radioman with Company D, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division.

On the evening of Dec. 21, 1967, Smedley led a six-man squad to an ambush site at the mouth of an area known as Happy Valley near Phuoc Ninh, west of the vital Da Nang military complex. During the night, they noticed about 100 enemy fighters carrying 122-mm rocket launchers and mortars toward a hill that was within range of the complex.

Realizing the enemy was about to launch an attack on Da Nang, Smedley immediately radioed for a reaction force; he then maneuvered his men to a better position so they could attack the enemy – even though they were outnumbered 15 to 1.

A unit from Battalion Landing Team 1/4 establishes a night defensive position in the middle of a broad expanse of muddy rice paddies in Vietnam during Operation Deckhouse VI in 1967. The Marine in the foreground has obtained a non-issue rifle, which rests against a pack on the ground.
A unit from Battalion Landing Team 1/4 establishes a night defensive position in the middle of a broad expanse of muddy rice paddies in Vietnam during Operation Deckhouse VI in 1967. The Marine in the foreground has obtained a non-issue rifle, which rests against a pack on the ground.

The squad quickly drew heavy machine-gun fire, wounding several of the men. At the same time, an enemy grenade exploded, knocking Smedley to the ground and seriously hurting his right foot. He ignored the injuries and struggled to his feet while shouting encouragement to his men.

Smedley then led a charge toward the enemy machine gun emplacement, firing his rifle and throwing grenades until he was again knocked to the ground by enemy fire.

By this point, Smedley was gravely wounded. He was losing a lot of blood and getting weak, but he refused to give up. He stood up and proceeded to single-handedly attack the machine gun nest, which he managed to destroy. Unfortunately, he was struck a third time by enemy fire and died on the spot.

Smedley’s body was returned home, and he was buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

Although he was only 18 at the time, Smedley managed to inspire his injured comrades into action to thwart the enemy, despite certain death. Those actions earned him the Medal of Honor on June 20, 1969. His family received the medal from President Richard Nixon during a White House ceremony.

Smedley’s home state of Florida has not forgotten him. The Cpl. Larry E. Smedley National Vietnam War Museum (formerly the National Vietnam Veterans War Museum) in Central Florida was renamed in his honor in 2000. In 2004, a nearby section of highway was also named for him.

Various other roads and facilities throughout the country have been named in Smedley’s honor. Perhaps the biggest honor, however, came in 2008 when Orange County Public Schools awarded him an honorary diploma.


Department of Defense

U.S. Department of Defense

The Department of Defense provides the military forces needed to deter war and ensure our nation’s security. The foundational strength of the Department of Defense is the men and women who volunteer to serve our country and protect our freedoms. Visit www.defense.gov/ to learn more.

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Circle8
Circle8(@circle8)
6 months ago

Semper Fi Larry. May you rest in peace and God Bless you and your family.

Deplorable Bill
Deplorable Bill(@deplorable-bill)
6 months ago

It takes a lot to charge a machine gun. WW-1 was fought mainly in trenches because of the machine gun. I was a 60 gunner in a scout platoon so I have some semblance of experience with it’s way of chopping men into meat. To attack and destroy a m.g. position single handed is a very rare thing so this man deserves all the respect that we have.

Arm up and carry on

PMinFl
PMinFl(@pminfl)
6 months ago

God bless all the heros.

Buster
Buster(@buster)
6 months ago
Reply to  PMinFl

The cancel culture, if they have their way, will do away with anything that might honor men like Cpl Smedley.

Get ready to put your guns and ammo to work – it’s about time to send the libtard bastards straight to Hell.

RoyD
RoyD(@royd)
6 months ago

“Semper Fidelis.”

willyd
willyd(@willyd)
6 months ago
Reply to  RoyD

The bad part about this is that people today don’t know how this effects families and friends of lost ones who have made that sacrifice to preserve our lifestyles and freedoms!!!!!!