Smitty Steps Up (continued)
What happened next on Landing Zone Duster is the subject of this citation:
The Secretary of the Navy takes pleasure in presenting the
NAVY COMMENDATION MEDAL
CORPORAL ERIC F. SMITH
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For heroic achievement while serving as a Radio Operator with the 81mm mortar platoon, Second Battalion, Twenty Sixth Marines in connection with operations against the enemy in the republic of Vietnam.
On 1 October 1968, while supporting elements of the Second Battalion, which were heavily engaged with a large North Vietnamese Army force in the demilitarized zone, the 81mm mortar platoon came under a heavy volume of artillery fire.
During the ensuing attack several Marines were seriously wounded, including the corpsman. When the platoon was ordered to withdraw, Corporal Smith fearlessly remained in the exposed area of the landing zone as he moved casualties across the fire swept terrain to positions of relative safety, administered medical aid and prepared the wounded for evacuation. In addition to aiding the injured men, he requested medical evacuation helicopters, provided radio reports of the situation to the battalion command post and collected Marine equipment and ammunition which was scattered throughout the area. When helicopters arrived he assisted in embarking the wounded Marines aboard the aircraft and resolutely remained at the landing zone until all equipment had been moved to his platoon’s new position.
His heroic actions and resolute determination inspired all those who observed him and were instrumental in saving the lives of several Marines. By his great personal courage, bold initiative and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger, Corporal Smith upheld the finest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.
Corporal Smith is authorized to wear the Combat “V”.
For the Secretary
Lt. General H.W. Buse, USMC
Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Pacific.
A story of true bravery, but the real story is even more inspiring.