JACK P. SMITH
22 April 1945 - 7 April 2004
A note from Neil Mishalov, webmaster of this site:
I had the pleasure of meeting Jack P. Smith. We first met on 19 April 2003, when we hiked together on Mount Tamalpais, California. I found Jack to be a gentleman and I enjoyed his company. We subsequently met three additional times, and each time we hiked on the flanks of Mount Tamalpais.
In September, 2003, I called Jack and asked him if he wanted to join me on another hike. He said “Yes, but since I was recently diagnosed with cancer of the liver and the pancreas, I will not be able to accompany you.“ There was a shocked silence on the phone as I heard his comment. He then proceeded to discuss the cancer and the likely outcome of the disease.
We met again in November, 2003, and did a gentle walk near his home in Mill Valley, California. His spirits were good and he appeared to be “OK.” I last spoke with Jack in January, 2004. He told me that he and his wife Pam were flying to Florida to see his mother. He suggested that we get together again in February. Alas, we did not see or talk with each other after our conversation in January, 2004.
Jack is survived by his wife, Pamela Peffer Smith; his mother, Benedicte Traberg Smith of Marco Island, Florida; a sister, Catherine Smith of Los Angeles, California; a son from a previous marriage, Alexander K. Smith, currently enrolled at the University of California at Santa Cruz; and two stepsons, Aidan and Matthew McTighe of Rockville, Maryland. I will miss Jack. May He Rest In Peace.
Sandbag For A Machine Gun: Jack P. Smith on the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley and the Legacy of the Vietnam War
Jack P. Smith gave this speech on 8 November 2003, at the Ia Drang Survivors Banquet in Crystal City, Virginia
I have pancreatic cancer. If it is Agent Orange, it's not the first time this damned war has tried to kill me.
Let me tell you about the first time. In fact, the whole and true story of my journey home from Vietnam. But before I do, let me set the scene for you.
It is November 1965. The Ia Drang Valley. The nearest town, Pleiku, a remote Vietnamese province capital. And west of town, beyond the stilted long-huts of the Montagnards, flat scrub jungle cover the hills by the Cambodian border. A smugglers' haven, and now the infiltration route for the first North Vietnamese regulars to invade South Vietnam.
American regular infantry, the first sent to Vietnam as the war escalates, have come to this border country to hunt the People's Army of Vietnam. They are the men of the First Air Cav, the first Army infantry division to ride into war in helicopters. The leading unit is Lt. Col. Hal Moore's 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment. Driving their choppers into a landing zone designated X-ray, a few miles from the Cambodian border, on the 14th of November, 1965, they land on top of a North Vietnamese Army base. A ferocious battle ensues that lasts three whole days. Hal Moore's battalion several times comes within inches of being overrun. In the end, reinforced to brigade strength, the U.S. troops destroy the better part of a North Vietnamese division at X-ray. Seventy-nine Americans are killed, 121 wounded, a total of 200 U.S. casualties, the highest toll of the war till then...but there are roughly two thousand North Vietnamese casualties.
I came in on the last day of the battle. I remember the NVA bodies were piled so thick around the foxholes you could walk on them for 100 feet in some places. The American GIs were the same color as the dirt and all had that thousand-yard stare of those newly initiated to combat.
The next day, after a restless night, my battalion, the 2/7, walked away from X-ray toward another clearing called LZ Albany. Around lunchtime, we were jumped by a North Vietnamese formation. Like us, about 500-strong.
The fighting was hand-to-hand. I was lying so close to a North Vietnamese machine-gunner that I simply stuck out my rifle and blew off his head. It was, I think, the only time during the war that a U.S. battalion was ever overrun. The U.S. casualties for this fourth day of battle: 155 killed, 121 wounded. More dead than wounded. The North Vietnamese suffered a couple of hundred casualties.
The fight at LZ Albany was largely overlooked as an aberration- poor leadership, green troops. In this first encounter between their main force regulars, the two sides focused instead on X-ray. Interestingly, both drew the same conclusion: that each could win using the tactics of attrition.
The ferocity of the fighting during those four days was appalling. At one point in the awful afternoon at Albany, as my battalion was being cut to pieces, a small group of enemy came upon me, and thinking I had been killed (I was covered in other people's blood), proceeded to use me as a sandbag for their machine gun. I pretended to be dead. I remember the gunner had bony knees that pressed against my sides. He didn't discover I was alive because he was trembling more than I was. He was, like me, just a teenager.
The gunner began firing into the remnants of my company. My buddies began firing back with rifle grenades, M-79s, to those of you who know about them. I remember thinking, "Oh, my God. If I stand up, the North Vietnamese will kill me; and if I stay lying down, my buddies will get me." Before I went completely mad, a volley of grenades exploded on top of me, killing the enemy boy and injuring me.
It went on like this all day and much of the night. I was wounded twice and thought myself dead. My company suffered about 93 percent casualties--93 percent.
This sort of experience leaves scars. I had nightmares. For years afterwards I was sour on life, by turns angry, cynical, and alienated.
Then one day I woke up and saw the world as I believe it really is, a bright and warm place. I looked afresh at my scars and marveled, not at the frailty of human flesh, but at the indomitable strength of the human spirit. This is the miracle of life. Like other Vietnam veterans, I began to put the personal hurt behind me, and I started to examine the war itself and to make sense of it.
When I went back to Vietnam a few years ago, I met Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, the man who engineered the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu and then commanded North Vietnamese forces in the war with South Vietnam and us. He conceded that because of the Ia Drang his plans to cut Vietnam in half and take the capital had been delayed ten years. But then, he chuckled, it didn't make a difference, did it?
We won every battle, but the North Vietnamese in the end took Saigon. What on earth had we been doing there? Was all that pain and suffering worth it, or was it just a terrible waste? This is why Vietnam veterans often have so much trouble letting go, what sets them apart from veterans of other wars.
Nothing is so precious to a nation as its youth. And so, to squander the lives of the young in a war that, depending on one's point of view, either should never have been fought or we were never prepared to win, seems crazy. Yet, that's exactly what happened in Vietnam. However justified the war seemed in 1964 and 1965, and, remember, almost all Americans then thought it was, it no longer seemed that way after Tet in 1968. And no matter what you may remember of the war, we never really fought it to win.
When I was wounded it caused a minor sensation at home. My father was Howard K. Smith, the anchorman and TV news commentator, who was then at the peak of his career. That the son of a famous person should get shot in Vietnam was, in 1965, news. When I returned to the United States after my tour in Vietnam, President Johnson, who was a friend of my dad's, invited me to a dinner party at the White House. I remember a tall, smiling man who thanked me for my service and
sacrifice. I liked him then; I still do today. Yet no one bears as much responsibility for the conduct of the war as he does.
In the Gulf War we took six months to put half a million troops into the war zone. In Vietnam, it took more than six years. We were too timid to carry the fight to the enemy until the end, and we tried, impossibly, to keep the war contained to South Vietnam.
The result was that our enemy, a small country waging total war, that is, using all its resources, saw a super power fighting a limited war and concluded that if it could just sustain the 10-to-1 casualties we were inflicting for a while, then we would tire and leave, and it would win. Of course, Ho Chi Minh was right. The war also changed character. The Sino-Soviet split made it seem less like a war of national liberation and more like a civil war - an internal squabble. After the Tet Offensive in 1968, we quit and began the longest and bloodiest retreat in U.S. history. Dean Rusk, then-Secretary of State, many years later ruefully told me, “They outlasted us.”
The fact is, democracies don't fight inconclusive wars for remote goals in distant places for very long. Pham Van Dong, Ho's successor, said that.
Whether the war was right or whether it was wrong, it was fought in such a way it could never really have been brought to a conclusion. That now seems clear with time. What a waste. It's why so many veterans of Vietnam feel bitter.
Well, we finally did get our parades and we finally did build our memorial on the Mall in Washington. These helped. But so many veterans were still haunted by the war, and I was, too.
Fourteen years ago, I watched the Berlin Wall come down and, as an ABC News correspondent, I witnessed first hand the collapse of communism. I remember thinking, “My God, containment worked. We won the Cold War.” And however meaningless Vietnam seemed at the time, it contributed to the fall of communism. Hardly justification for what we went through in Vietnam, but at least it was something.
Then ten years ago, an event changed me. An opportunity to go back to Vietnam. With ten other Ia Drang veterans, I traveled back to the jungle in the Central Highlands and for several days walked the battlefield. Did I find the answer to my question? No, I don't know if what we did in the war ultimately was worth it. But what I did find surprised me.
North Vietnam may have conquered the South, but it is losing the peace. A country that three decades ago had the fourth strongest army in the world has squandered its wealth on fighting its neighbors and is poor and bankrupt. You look at Vietnam today and you wonder why they fought the war. Many North Vietnamese wonder, too.
What struck me was the overwhelming peacefulness of the place, even in the clearing where I fought, LZ Albany. I broke down several times. I wanted to bring back some shell casings - some physical manifestation of the battle - to lay at the foot of The Wall here in Washington. But, do you know, search as I did, I could not find any. The forces of nature had simply erased it. And where once the grass had been slippery with blood, there were flowers blooming in that place of death. So I pressed some and brought them back. Flowers...that's all that I could find in that jungle clearing that once held terror and now held beauty.
What I discovered with time may seem obvious, but it had really escaped me all those years on my journey home from Vietnam: The war is over. It certainly is for Vietnam and the Vietnamese. As I said on a Nightline broadcast when I came back, “This land is at peace, and so should we be.” For me, Vietnam has become a place again, not a war, and I have begun letting go.
I have discovered that wounds heal. That the friendship of old comrades breathes meaning into life. And that even the most disjointed events can begin to make sense with the passage of time.
This has allowed me, on evenings like this, to step forward and take pride in the service I gave my country. But never to forget what was, and will always be, the worst day of my life. The day I escaped death in the tall grass of the Ia Drang Valley. Thank you.
Thanks to Ron Sleeis (Saigon Ron) for providing this web site with the text of Jack’s speech.
The Saturday Evening Post, 28 January 1967
Death in the Ia Drang Valley, November 13-18, 1965
By Private 1st Class Jack P. Smith
The 1st Battalion had been fighting continuously for three or four days, and I had never seen such filthy troops. Some of them had blood on their faces from scratches and from other guys' wounds. Some had long rips in their clothing where shrapnel and bullets had missed them. They all had that look of shock. They said little, just looked around with darting, nervous eyes.
Whenever I heard a shell coming close, I'd duck, but they'd keep standing. After three days of constant bombardment you get so you can tell from the sound how close a shell is going to land to within 50 to 75 feet. There were some wounded lying around, bandaged up with filthy shirts and bandages, Smoking cigarettes or lying in a coma with plasma bottles hanging above their stretcher.
Late that morning the Cong made a charge. About 100 of them jumped up and made for our lines, and all hell broke loose. The people in that sector opened up with everything they had. Then a couple of our Skyraiders came in. One of them dropped a lot of stuff that shimmered in the sun like green confetti. It looked like a ticker-tape parade, but when the things hit the ground, the little pieces exploded. They were antipersonnel charges Every one of the gooks was killed. Another group on the other side almost made it to the lines. There weren't enough GI's there, and they couldn't shoot them down fast enough. A plane dropped some napalm bombs just in front of the line. I couldn't see the gooks, but I could hear them scream as they burned. A hundred men dead, just like that.
My company, Charlie Company, took over its sector of the battalion perimeter and started to dig in. At three o'clock another attack came, but it never amounted to anything. 1 didn't get any sleep that night. There was continuous firing from one until four and it was as bright as day with the flares lighting up the sky.
The next morning the order came for us to move out. I guess our commanders felt the battle was over. The three battalions of PAVN (People's Army of Vietnam-the North Vietnamese) were destroyed. There must have been about 1,000rotting bodies out there, starting about 20 feet from us and surrounding the giant circle of foxholes. As we left the perimeter we walked by them. Some of them had been lying out there for four days.There are more ants in Vietnam than in any place I have ever seen.
We were being withdrawn to Landing Zone Albany, some six miles away, where we were to be picked up by helicopter. About noon the column stopped and everybody flopped on the ground. It turned out that our reconnaissance platoon had come upon four sleeping PAVN who had claimed they were deserters.They said that there were three or four snipers in the trees upahead-friends of theirs who did not want to surrender.
The head of the column formed by our battalion was already in the landing zone, which was actually only 30 yards to our left. But our company was still in the woods and elephant grass. I dropped my gear and my ax, which was standard equipment for supply clerks like me. We used them to cutdown trees to help make landing zones for our helicopters. The day had grown very hot. I was about one quarter through a smoke when a few shots cracked at the front of the column.
I flipped my cigarette butt, lay down and grabbed my M-16. The fire in front was still growing. Then a few shots were fired right behind me. They seemed to come from the trees. There was firing all over the place now, and I was getting scared. A bullet hit the dirt a foot to my side, and some started whistling over my head.
This wasn't the three or four snipers we had been warned about. There were over 100 North Vietnamese snipers tied in the trees above us-so we learned later-way above us, in the top branches. The firing kept increasing.
Our executive officer (XO) jumped up and said, "Follow me, and let's get the hell out of here." I followed him, along with the rest of the headquarters section and the 1st Platoon. We crouched and ran to the right toward what we thought was the landing zone. But it was only a small clearing - the L.Z. was to our left. We were running deeper into the bush.
The fire was still increasing. We were all crouched as low as possible, but still keeping up a steady trot, looking from to side. I glanced back at Richards, one of the company's radio operators. Just as I looked back, he moaned softly and fell to the ground. I knelt down and looked at him, and he shuddered and started to gurgle deep in his stomach. His eyes and tongue popped out, and he died. He had a hole straight through his heart.
I had been screaming for a medic. I stopped. I looked up. Everyone had stopped. All of a sudden all the snipers opened up with automatic weapons. There were PAVN with machine guns hidden behind every anthill. The noise was deafening Then the men started dropping. It was unbelievable. I knelt there staring as at least 20 men dropped within a few seconds. I still had not recovered from the shock of seeing Richards killed, but the jolt of seeing men die so quickly brought me back to life. I hit the dirt fast. The XO was to my left, and Wallace was to my right, with Burroughs to his right. We were touching each other lying therein the tall elephant grass. Men all around me were screaming. The fire was now a continuous roar. We were even being fired at by our own guys. No one knew where the fire was coming from, and so the men were shooting everywhere. Some were in shock and were blazing away at everything they saw or imagined they saw.
The XO let out a low moan, and his head sank. I felt a flash of panic. I had been assuming that he would get us out of this. Enlisted men may scoff at officers back in the billets but when the fighting begins, the men automatically become dependent upon them. Now I felt terribly alone.
The XO had been hit in the small of the back. I ripped off his shirt and there it was: a groove to the right of his spine. The bullet was still in there. He was in a great deal of pain, so a rifleman named Wilson and I removed his gear as best we could, and I bandaged his wound. It was not bleeding much on the outside, but he was very close to passing out.
Just then Wallace let out a "Huh!" A bullet had creased his upper arm and entered his side. He was bleeding in spurts. I ripped away his shirt with my knife and did him up. Then the XO screamed: A bullet had gone through his boot, taking all his toes with it. He was in agony and crying. Wallace was swearing and in shock. I was crying and holding on to the XO's hand to keep from going crazy.
The grass in front of Wallace's head began to fall as if a lawnmower were passing. It was a machine gun, and I could see the vague outline of the Cong's head behind the foot or so of elephant grass. The noise of firing from all directions was so great that I couldn't even hear a machine gun being fired three feet in front of me and one foot above my head.
As if in a dream I picked up my rifle put it on automatic, pushed the barrel into the Cong's face and pulled the trigger. I saw his face disappear. I guess I blew his head off, but I never saw his body and did not look for it.
Wallace screamed. I had fired the burst pretty close to his ear, but I didn't hit him. Bullets by the thousands were coming from the trees, from the L.Z., from the very ground, it seemed. There was a huge thump nearby. Burroughs rolled over and started a scream, though it sounded more like a growl. He had been lying on his side when a grenade went off about three or four feet from him. He looked as though someone had poured red paint over him from head to toe.
After that everything began getting hazy. I lay there for several minutes, and I think I was beginning to go into shock. I don't remember much.
The amazing thing about all this was that from the time Richards was killed to the time Burroughs was hit, only a minute or two had elapsed. Hundreds of men had been hit all around us, and the sound of men screaming was almost as loud as the firing.
The XO was going fast. He told me his wife's name was Carol. He told me that if he didn't make it, I was to write her and tell her that he loved her. Then he somehow managed to crawl away, saying that he was going to organize the troops. It was his positive decision to do something, that reinforced my own will to go on.
Then our artillery and air strikes started to come in. They saved our lives. Just before they started, I could hear North Vietnamese voices on our right. ThePAVN battalion was moving in on us, into the woods. The Skyraiders were dropping napalm bombs a hundred feet in front of me on a PAVN machine-gun complex. I felt the hot blast and saw the elephant grass curling ahead of me. The victims were screaming - some of them were our own men who were trapped outside the wood line.
At an altitude of 200 feet it's difficult to distinguish one soldier from another. It's unfortunate and horrible, but most of the battalion's casualties in the first hour or so were from our own men, firing at everything insight.
No matter what you did, you got hit. The snipers in the trees just waited for someone to move, then shot him. I could hear the North Vietnamese entering the woods from out right. They were creeping along, babbling and arguing among themselves, calling to each other when they found a live GI. Then they shot him.
I decided that it was time to move. I crawled off to my left a few feet, to where Sgt. Moore and Thompson were lying. Sgt. Moore had been hit in the chest three times. He was in pain and sinking fast. Thompson was hit only lightly in the leg. I asked the sergeant to hold my hand. He must have known then that he was dying, but he managed to assure me that everything would be all right.
I knew there wasn't much chance of that. This was a massacre, and I was one of a handful not yet wounded. All around me, those who were not already dead were dying or severely wounded, most of them hit several times. I must have been talking a lot, but I have no idea what I was saying. I think it was, "Oh God, Oh God, Oh God," over and over. Then I would cry. To get closer to the ground, I had dumped my gear, including the ax I had been carrying, and I had lost my rifle, but that was no problem. There were weapons of every kind lying everywhere.
Sgt. Moore asked me if I thought he would make it. I squeezed his hand and told him sure. He said that he was in a lot of pain, and every now and then he would scream. He was obviously bleeding internally quite a bit. I was sure that he would die before the night. I had seen his wife and four kids at Fort Benning. He had made it through World War II and Korea, but this little war had got him.
I found a hand grenade and put it next to me. Then I pulled out my first-aid pack and opened it. I still was not wounded, but I knew I would be soon.
At that instant I heard a babble of Vietnamese voices close by. They sounded like little children, cruel children. The sound of those voices, of the enemy that close, was the most frightening thing I have ever experienced. Combat creates a mindless fear, but this was worse, naked panic.
A small group of PAVN was rapidly approaching. There was a heavy rustling of elephant grass and a constant babbling of high-pitched voices. I told Sgt. Moore to shut up and play dead. I was thinking of using my grenade, but I was scared that it wouldn't get them all, and that they were so close that I would blow myself up too.
My mind was made up for me, because all of a sudden they were there. I stuck the grenade under my belly so that even if I was hit the grenade would not go off too easily, and if it did go off I would not feet pain. I willed myself to stop shaking, and I stopped breathing. There were about 10or 12 of them, I figure. They took me for dead, thank God. They lay down all around me, still babbling.
One of them lay down on top of me and started to set up his machine gun. He dropped his canister next to my side. His feet were by my head, and his head was between my feet. He was about six feet tall and pretty bony. He probably couldn't feel me shaking because he was shaking so much himself. I thought I was gone. I was trying like hell to act dead, however the hell one does that.
The Cong opened up on our mortar platoon, which was setup around a big tree nearby. The platoon returned the fire, killing about half of the Cong, and miraculously not hitting me. All of a sudden a dozen loud "crumph"sounds went off all around me. Assuming that all the GI's in front of them were dead, our mortar platoon had opened up with M-79 grenade launchers. The Cong jumped up off me, moaning with fear, and the other PAVN began to move around. They apparently knew the M-79. Then a second series of explosions went off, killing all the Cong as they got up to run. One grenade landed between Thompson's head and Sgt. Moore's chest. Sgt. Moore saved my life; he took most of the shrapnel in his side. A piece got me in the head.
It felt as if a white-hot sledge hammer had hit the right side of my face. Then something hot and stinging hit my left leg. I lost consciousness for a few seconds. I came out of it feeling intense pain in my leg and a numbness in my head. I didn't dare feel my face: I thought the whole side of it had gone. Blood was pouring down my forehead and filling the hollow of my eyeglasses. It was also pouring out of my mouth. I slapped a bandage on the side of my face and tied it around my head. I was numbed, but I suddenly felt better. It had happened, and I was still alive.
I decided it was time to get out. None of my buddies appeared able to move. The Cong obviously had the mortar platoon pegged, and they would try to overrun it again. I was going to be right in their path. I crawled over Sgt. Moore, who had half his chest gone, and Thompson, who had no head left. Wilson, who had helped me with the XO, had been hit badly, but I couldn't tell where. All that moved was his eyes. He asked me for some water. I gave him one of the two canteens I had scrounged. I still had the hand grenade.
I crawled over many bodies, all still. The 1st Platoon just didn't exist anymore. One guy had his arm blown off. There was only some shredded skin and a piece of bone sticking out of his sleeve. The sight didn't bother me anymore. The artillery was still keeping up a steady barrage, as were the planes, and the noise was as loud as ever, but I didn't hear it anymore. It was a miracle I didn't get shot by the snipers in the trees while I was moving.
As I was crawling around looking for someone alive, I came across Sgt. Barker, who stuck a .45in my face. He thought I was a Cong and almost shot me. Apparently I was now close to the mortar platoon. Many other wounded men had crawled over there, including the medic Novak, who had run out of supplies after five minutes. Barker was hit in the legs. Caine was hurt badly too. There were many others, all in bad shape.
I lay there with the hand grenade under me, praying. The Cong made several more attacks, which the mortar platoon fought off with 79's.
The Cong figured out that the mortar platoon was right by that tree, and three of their machine-gun crews crawled up and started to blaze away. It had taken them only a minute or so to find exactly where the platoon was; it took them half a minute to wipe it out. When they opened up, I heard a guy close by scream, then another, and another. Every few seconds someone would scream. Some got hit several times. In 30 seconds the platoon was virtually nonexistent. I heard Lt. Sheldon scream three times, but he lived. I think only five or six guys from the platoon were alive the next day.
It also seemed that most of them were hit in the belly. I don't know why, but when a man is hit in the belly, he screams an unearthly scream. Something you cannot imagine; you actually have to hear it. When a man is hit in the chest or the belly, he keeps on screaming, sometimes until he dies. I just lay there, numb, listening to the bullets whining over me and the 15 or 20 men close to me screaming and screaming and screaming. They didn't ever stop for breath. They kept on until they were hoarse, then they would bleed through their mouths and pass out. They would wake up and start screaming again. Then they would die.
I started crying. Sgt. Gale was lying near me. He had been hit badly in the stomach and was in great pain. He would lie very still for a while and then scream. He would scream for a doctor, then he would scream for a medic. He pleaded with anyone he saw to help him, for the love of God, to stop his pain or kill him. He would thrash around and scream some more, and then lie still for a while. He was bleeding a lot. Everyone was. No matter where you put your hand, the ground was sticky.
Sgt. Gale lay there for over six hours before he died. No one had any medical supplies, no one could move, and no one would shoot him.
Several guys shot themselves that day. Schiff, although he was not wounded, completely lost his head and killed himself with his own grenade. Two other men, both wounded, shot themselves with .45's rather than let themselves be captured alive by the gooks. No one will ever know how many chose that way out, since all the dead had been hit over and over again.
All afternoon we could hear the PAVN, a whole battalion, running through the grass and trees. Hundreds of GI's were scattered on the ground like salt. Sprinkled among them like pepper were the wounded and dead Cong. The GI's who were wounded badly were screaming for medics. The Cong soon found them and killed them.
All afternoon there was smoke, artillery, screaming, moaning, fear, bullets, blood, and little yellow men running around screeching with glee when they found one of us alive, or screaming and moaning with fear when they ran into a grenade or a bullet. I suppose that all massacres in wars area bloody mess, but this one seemed bloodier to me because I was caught in it.
About dusk a few helicopters tried landing in the L.Z., about 40 yards over to the left, but whenever one came within 100 feet of the ground, so many machine guns would open up on him that it sounded like a training company at a machine gun range.
At dusk the North Vietnamese started to mortar us. Some of the mortars they used were ours that they had captured. Suddenly the ground behind me lifted up, and there was a tremendous noise. I knew something big had gone off right behind me. At the same time I felt something white-hot go into my right thigh. I started screaming and screaming. The pain was terrible. Then I said, "My legs. God, my legs," over and over.
Still screaming, I ripped the bandage off my face and tied it around my thigh. It didn't fit, so I held it as tight as I could with my fingers. I could feel the blood pouring out of the hole. I cried and moaned. It was hurting unbelievably. The realization came to me now, for the first time, that I was not going to live.
With hardly any light left, the Cong decided to infiltrate the woods thoroughly. They were running everywhere. There were no groupings of Americans left in the woods, just a GI here and there. The planes had left, but the artillery kept up the barrage.
Then the flares started up. As long as there was some light, the Cong wouldn't try an all-out attack. I was lying there in a stupor, thirsty. God, I was thirsty. I had been all afternoon with no water, sweating like hell.
I decided to chance a cigarette. All my original equipment and weapons were gone, but somehow my cigarettes were still with me The ends were bloody. I tore off the ends and lit the middle part of a cigarette.
Cupping it and blowing away the smoke, I managed to escape detection. I knew I was a fool. But at this stage I didn't really give a damn. By now the small-arms fire had stopped almost entirely. The woods were left to the dead, the wounded, and the artillery barrage.
At nightfall I had crawled across to where Barker, Caine and a few others were lying. I didn't say a word. I just lay there on my back, listening to the swishing of grass, the sporadic fire and the constant artillery, which was coming pretty close. For over six hours now shells had been landing within a hundred yards of me.
I didn't move, because I couldn't. Reaching around, I found a canteen of water. The guy who had taken the last drink from it must have been hit in the face, because the water was about one third blood. I didn't mind. I passed it around.
About an hour after dark there was a heavy concentration of small-arms fire all around us. It lasted about five minutes. It was repeated at intervals all night long. Battalion H.q.. was firing a protective fire, and we were right in the path of the bullets. Some of our men were getting hit by the rounds ricocheting through the woods.
I lay there shivering. At night in the highlands the temperature goes down to 50 or so. About midnight I heard the grass swishing. It was men, and a lot of them too. I took my hand grenade and straightened out the pin. I thought to myself that now at last they were going to come and kill all the wounded that were left. I was sure I was going to die and I really did not care anymore. I did not want them to take me alive. The others around me were either unconscious or didn't care. They were just lying there. I think most of them had quietly died in the last few hours. I know one - I did not recognize him - wanted to be alone to die. When he felt himself going, he crawled over me (I don't know how), and a few minutes later I heard him gurgle, and, I
Then suddenly I realized that the men were making little whistling noises. Maybe these weren't the Cong. A few seconds later a patrol of GI's came into view, about15 guys in line, looking for wounded. Everyone started pawing toward them and crying. It turned me into a babbling idiot. I grabbed one of the guys and wouldn't let go. They had four stretchers with them, and they took the four worst wounded and all the walking wounded, about10 or so, from the company. I was desperate, and I told the leader I could walk, but when Peters helped me to my feet, I passed out cold.
When I regained consciousness, they had gone, but their medic was left behind, a few feet from me, by a tree. He hadn't seen me, and had already used his meager supply of bandages on those guys who had crawled up around the tree. His patrol said they would be back in a few hours.
I clung to the hope, but I knew damn well they weren't coming back. Novak, who was one of the walking wounded, had left me his .45. I lost one of the magazines, and the only other one had only three bullets in it. I still had the hand grenade.
I crawled up to the tree. There were about eight guys there, all badly wounded. Lt.Sheldon was there, and he had the only operational radio left in the company. I couldn't hear him, but he was talking to the company commander, who had gotten separated from us. Lt. Sheldon had been wounded in the thighbone, the kneecap and the ankle.
Some time after midnight, in my half-conscious stupor, I heard a lot of rustling on both sides of the tree. I nudged the lieutenant, and then he heard it too. Slowly, everyone who could move started to arm himself. I don't know who it was-it might even have been me-but someone made a noise with a weapon.
The swishing noise stopped immediately. Ten yards or so from us an excited babbling started. The gooks must have thought they had run into a pocket of resistance around the tree. Thank God they didn't dare rush us, because we wouldn't have lasted a second. Half of us were too weak to even cock our weapons. As a matter of fact, there were a couple who did not have fingers to cock with.
Then a clanking noise started: They were setting up a machine gun right next to us. I noticed that some artillery shells were landing close now, and every few seconds they seemed to creep closer to us, until one of the Cong screamed. Then the babbling grew louder. I heard the lieutenant on the radio; he was requesting a salvo to bracket us. A few seconds later there was a loud whistling in the air and shells were landing all around us, again and again. I heard the Cong run away. They left some of their wounded a couple of yards from us, moaning and screaming, but they died within a few minutes.
Every half hour or so the artillery would start all over again. It was a long night. Everytime, the shells came so close to our position that we could hear the shrapnel striking the tree a foot or. so above our heads, and could hear other pieces humming by just inches over us.
All night long the Cong had been moving around killing the wounded. Every few minutes I heard some guy start screaming, "No no no please," and then a burst of bullets. When they found a guy who was wounded, they'd make an awful racket. They'd yell for their buddies and babble awhile, then turn the poor devil over and listen to him while they stuck a barrel in his face and squeezed.
About an hour before dawn the artillery stopped, except for an occasional shell. But the small-arms firing started up again, just as heavy as it had been the previous afternoon. The GI's about a mile away were advancing and clearing the ground and trees of Cong (and a few Americans too).The snipers, all around the trees and in them, started firing back.
When a bullet is fired at you, it makes a distinctive, sharp, cracking sound. The firing by the GI's was all cracks. I could hear thuds all around me from the bullets. I thought I was all dried out from bleeding and sweating,but now I started sweating all over again. I thought, how futile it would be to die now from an American bullet. I just barely managed to keep myself from screaming out loud. I think some guy near me got hit. He let out a long sigh and gurgled.
Soon the sky began to turn red and orange. There was complete silence everywhere now. Not even the birds started their usual singing. As the sun was coming up, everyone expected a human-wave charge by the PAVN, and then a total massacre We didn't know that the few Cong left from the battle had pulled out just before dawn, leaving only their wounded an a few suicide squads behind.
When the light grew stronger, I could see all around me. The scene might have been the devil's butcher shop. There were dead men all around the tree. I found that the dead body I had been resting my head on was that of Burgess, one of my buddies. I could hardly recognize him. He was a professional saxophone player with only two weeks left in the Army.
Right in front of me was Sgt. Delaney with both his legs blown off. I had been staring at him all night without knowing who he was. His eyes were open and covered with dirt. Sgt. Gale was dead too. Most of the dead were unrecognizable and were beginning to stink. There was blood and mess all over the place.
Half a dozen of the wounded were alive. Lord, who was full of shrapnel; Lt. Sheldon, with several bullet wounds; Morris, shot in the legs and arm; Sloan, with his fingers shot off; Olson, with his leg shot up and hands mutilated; and some guy from another company who was holding his guts from falling out.
Dead Cong were hanging out of the trees everywhere. The Americans had fired bursts that had blown some snipers right out of the trees. But these guys, they were just hanging and dangling there in silence.
We were all sprawled out in various stages of unconsciousness. My wounds had started bleeding again, and the heat was getting bad. The ants were getting to my legs.
Lt. Sheldon passed out, so I took over the radio. That whole morning is rather blurred in my memory. I remember talking for a long time with someone from Battalion H.q.. He kept telling me to keep calm, that they would have the medics and helicopters in there in no time. He asked me about the condition of the wounded. I told him that the few who were still alive wouldn't last long. I listened for a long time on the radio to chitchat between MedEvac pilots, Air Force jet pilots and BattalionH.q.. Every now and then I would call up and ask when they were going to pick us up. I'm sure I said a lot of other things, but I don't remember much about it.
I just couldn't understand at first why the MedEvacs didn't come in and get us.Finally I heard on the radio that they wouldn't land because no one knew whether or not the area was secure. Some of the wounded guys were beginning to babble. It seemed like hours before anything happened.
Then a small Air Force spotter plane was buzzing overhead. It dropped a couple of flares in the L.Z. nearby, marking the spot for an airstrip. I thought, My God,the air strike is going to land on top of us. I got through to the old man, the company commander, who was up ahead, and he said that it wouldn't come near us and for us not to worry. But I worried, and it landed pretty damn close.
There was silence for awhile, then they started hitting the L.Z. with artillery, a lot of it. This lasted for a half hour or so, and then the small arms started again, whistling and buzzing through the woods. I was terrified. I thought, My Lord, is this never going to end? If we're going to die, let's get it over with.
Finally the firing stopped, and there was a ghastly silence. Then the old man got on the radio again and talked to me. He called in a helicopter and told me to guide it over our area. I talked to the pilot, directing him, until he said he could see me. Some of the wounded saw the chopper and started yelling, "Medic, Medic." Others were moaning feebly and struggling to wave at the chopper.
The old man saw the helicopter circling and said he was coming to help us. He asked me to throw a smoke grenade, which I pulled off Lt. Sheldon's gear. It went off, and the old man saw it, because soon after that I heard the guys coming. They were shooting as they walked along. I screamed into the radio, "Don't shoot, don't shoot," but they called back and said they were just shooting PAVN.
Then I saw them: The 1st sergeant, our captain and the two radio operators. The captain came up to me and asked me how I was. I said to him: "Sorry, Sir, I lost my - ax." He said Don't worry, Smitty we'll get you another one."
The medics at the L.Z.cut off my boots and put bandages on me. My wounds were in pretty bad shape. You know what happens when you take raw meat and throw it on the ground on a sunny day. We were out there for 24 hours, and Vietnam is nothing but one big anthill.
I was put in a MedEvac chopper and flown to Pleiku, where they changed dressings and stuck all sorts of tubes in my arms. At Pleiku I saw Gruber briefly. He was a clerk in the battalion, and my Army buddy. We talked until they put me in the plane. I learned that Stern and Deschamps, close friends, had been found dead together, shot in the backs of their heads, executed by the Cong. Gruber had identified their bodies. Everyonewas crying. Like most of the men in our battalion, I had lost all myArmy friends.
I heard the casualty figures a few days later. The North Vietnamese unit had been wipedout-over 500 dead. Out of some 500 men in our battalion alone, about 150 had been killed, and only 84 returned to base camp a few days later. In my company. which was right in the middle of the ambush, we had 93-percent casualties-one half dead one half wounded. Almost all the wounded were crippled for life . The company, in fact, was very nearly annihilated.
Our unit is part of the7th Cavalry, Custer's old unit. That day in the Ia Drang Valley history repeated itself.
After a week in and out of field hospitals I ended up at Camp Zama in Japan. They have operated on me twice. They tell me that I'll walk again, and that my legs are going to be fine. But no one can tell me when I will stop having nightmares.
Jack Smith -- TV news pioneer in covering high-tech boom dies
By Michael Taylor
San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, April 8, 2004
Jack Smith of Mill Valley, a retired ABC News correspondent widely remembered for a 1993 piece that retraced one of the bloodiest fights of the Vietnam War -- a battle he participated in as a 19-year-old infantryman -- died Wednesday.
Mr. Smith, who was 58, died at Marin General Hospital of complications of pancreatic cancer.
He joined ABC News in 1978 and later became well known as one of television's pioneers in covering the high-tech boom. In fact, according to ABC News senior producer Richard Sergay, Mr. Smith's producer on the technology series, Mr. Smith spent so much time in Northern California covering Silicon Valley that he eventually decided to settle here in his retirement.
"Jack knew how to communicate as few others do and did it with eloquence, wit and grace," said ABC News President David Westin. "He made an invaluable contribution to ABC News, and we mourn his loss."
Mr. Smith was born in Paris and grew up in London. He was the son of ABC News anchorman Howard K. Smith, who died in February 2002. The Smith family moved to Washington when Jack Smith was 12.
In 1964, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, and in 1965 and 1966 he served with the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam. In November 1965 he was in the thick of the battle at the Ia Drang Valley -- actually, there were two battles, that of Landing Zone X-ray and Landing Zone Albany. Mr. Smith was wounded in the battle of LZ Albany and received the Bronze Star with "V" for valor and the Purple Heart.
The Ia Drang Valley became famous in the best-selling book, "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young," and later in the movie made from the book. For Mr. Smith, who saw the battle from the terrifying perspective of an infantryman, the battle left a lifelong searing memory of blood, injury and death. And he was uniquely qualified to describe it and use it as a point of reference in his 26 years as a journalist with ABC News and whenever he spoke to public gatherings about his experiences.
In a Memorial Day speech in Takoma, Md., in 1997, Mr. Smith said during the 24 hours of the battle, "At one point, I was lying so close to a North Vietnamese machine-gunner that I simply reached out and stuck my rifle in his face and killed him." He was wounded twice and "thought myself dead. My company suffered 93 percent casualties. I watched all the friends I had in the world die."
When Mr. Smith spoke at San Francisco's Marines Memorial Club in January 2003, he said: "At one point ... in the awful afternoon at LZ Albany as my battalion was being cut to pieces, a small group of enemy came upon me, and thinking I had been killed -- I was covered in other people's blood -- proceeded to use me as a sandbag for their machine gun. I pretended to be dead. I remember the gunner had bony knees that pressed against my sides. He didn't discover I was alive because he was trembling more than I was. He was, like me, just a teenager. The gunner began firing into the remnants of my company. My buddies began firing back with rifle grenades -- M-79s, to those of you who know about them. I remember thinking, Oh, my God, if I stand up, the North Vietnamese will kill me, and if I stay lying down my buddies will get me. ... Before I went completely mad, a volley of grenades exploded on top of me, killing the enemy boy and injuring me."
Mr. Smith was released from the Army in 1967 and received a bachelor of arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Mr. Smith joined ABC News in 1976 and was a Washington-based reporter from 1980 until his retirement in 2001. For nine years, he was a writer and correspondent for the show "This Week with David Brinkley," covering stories from Iran-Contra to the collapse of communism.
His colleague, Cokie Roberts, a political analyst for ABC News and National Public Radio, said Wednesday, "He did a wonderful job, on any topic imaginable." She said his work was "thoughtful, interesting, well-written ... but the main thing is he was just a lovely, lovely man. He grew up with the advantages and disadvantages of being Howard K. Smith's son, and he was ... very kind to younger colleagues, the kids who have been calling me today who were producers and associate producers when he was working with them; and they are just undone."
Mr. Smith returned to the Ia Drang Valley in 1993 and filed an ABC News report that Roberts said was "one of the most moving and affecting things you've ever seen. He was reconnecting with a very difficult part of his and all of our lives and doing it in a respectful way."
After his retirement from ABC, Mr. Smith narrated and hosted programs for A&E, the Discovery Channel and the Learning Channel. He also worked as a consultant to the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller.
Mr. Smith is survived by his wife, Pamela Smith, of Mill Valley; his mother, Benedicte Smith, of Marco Island, Fla.; a sister, Catherine Smith of Los Angeles; and a son, Alexander Smith of Mill Valley.
News Correspondent, Consultant Jack Smith Dies
By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 8, 2004
Jack Smith, 58, a Washington-based reporter for ABC News who retired in 2000 after covering the White House and government agencies and starting the technology beat, died April 7 at a hospital in Greenbrea, Calif. He had pancreatic cancer and a stroke.
Mr. Smith was the son of the late broadcaster Howard K. Smith, one of the famed CBS correspondents who worked closely with Edward R. Murrow during World War II. Howard K. Smith later became a newsman and analyst for ABC.
Jack Smith spent his early adulthood in the Army, serving in one of the earliest and bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War -- the fight for Ia Drang Valley. His father, known for his hawkish stand on the war, then interviewed his son for a program called "A Father, a Son and War."
Jack Smith joined ABC in the mid-1970s. As a Paris correspondent, he covered the invasion of Cambodia during the Vietnam War and the Iran hostage crisis.
He joined the Washington bureau in 1980 and contributed to "World News Tonight" and "Nightline." He was a principal correspondent for "This Week With David Brinkley" and a White House and State Department correspondent for "Good Morning America." On the technology beat, he focused on developments in Silicon Valley.
He told USA Today that he left ABC because the city had "lost its allure" since the days of the Cold War.
"I now have the front seat to the stains on Monica's dress or the agonies of Elian," he said, referring to the Clinton administration scandal involving intern Monica Lewinsky and the custody fate of the Cuban boy Elian Gonzales.
Over the years, he hosted shows for A&E network's "Biography" series and for the Learning Channel, notably its six-part documentary "Vietnam: the Soldiers' Story," in which he incorporated his own experiences in the war.
Jack Prescott Smith was born in Paris and raised in London and Washington. He joined the Army in 1964 at his father's suggestion.
"I was flunking out of Georgia Tech, and even the dean told me to get out of his school," he told Veterans of Foreign Wars Magazine in 1997. "My father said to make something of myself, so I enlisted in the service to grow up."
He saw brutal combat while serving with the Army's 7th Cavalry during the Vietnam War. He was injured in November 1965 during the battle of Ia Drang Valley, one of the first fights between U.S. combat forces and the North Vietnamese army.
He described the experiences in a 1967 Saturday Evening Post article. He said that 20 soldiers around him fell dead within seconds, followed by a series of little horrors as enemy bullets suddenly transformed sturdy commanding officers into desperate men crying in agony about toes that had been shot off.
As the North Vietnamese rushed the Americans, Mr. Smith said, he fired right into an enemy soldier's face -- ripping it away.
But the Vietnamese rush was relentless, and soon the Americans were overwhelmed. Mr. Smith pretended to be dead. One enemy solider used Mr. Smith as a sandbag for his machine gun, later earning him the nickname "Sandbag" Smith.
When American forces moved to repel the enemy, they hit their intended targets but also Mr. Smith. He said his unit suffered 93 percent casualties in the battle, which the U.S. troops won.
His decorations included the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
He was a 1971 history graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, went to work for ABC as an intern and then did graduate work in history at Oxford University. The former Cabin John resident moved to Mill Valley, Calif., in 2000 and started Jack Smith Media Group, a consulting business that helped clients prepare for television appearances.
His marriage to Riasa Scriabine ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife of three years, Pamela Peffer of Mill Valley; a son from his first marriage, Alexander Smith of Mill Valley; two stepchildren, Aidan McTighe and Matthew McTighe, both of Rockville; his mother, Benedicte Smith of Marco Island, Fla.; and a sister.
Jack Smith, 58; Veteran ABC News Reporter, A&E Host Dies
The Los Angeles Times, April 8, 2004
Jack Smith, an Emmy award-winning correspondent for ABC News who reported on the Iran-Contra affair, the fall of the Berlin Wall and, more recently, technology in the Silicon Valley, died Wednesday of pancreatic cancer at a hospital in Marin County, Calif. He was 58.
ABC News President David Westin said, "Jack knew how to communicate as few others do and did it with eloquence, wit and grace. He made an invaluable contribution to ABC News, and we mourn his loss."
The son of the late television news pioneer Howard K. Smith, Jack Smith joined ABC in 1976 and served as its Washington correspondent from 1980 until he left in 2001. He returned to California to become a media consultant.
For nine years, he was the principal correspondent for the Sunday morning news program "This Week With David Brinkley." In that capacity, Smith filed background reports on a wide array of subjects and covered two presidential elections.
Before joining the Washington bureau, he was the network's Paris correspondent. He also covered the fighting in Beirut during the Israeli siege of the Lebanese city in 1982.
Smith, born in Paris, was a highly decorated U.S. combat veteran of the Vietnam War. As a private in an Army rifle company, he was wounded in the battle of the Ia Drang Valley, one of the key American engagements with North Vietnamese regular forces. Smith was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
Years later, he returned to the Vietnam battlefield for special reports for ABC's "Nightline" and "Day One."
After the war, Smith received a bachelor's degree from Carnegie-Mellon University and another degree at Oxford University. He worked as a television news writer and producer in Pittsburgh and producer-reporter in Chicago, and received an Overseas Press Club citation for magazine reporting.
Smith also narrated and was host for programs for the A&E cable network series "Biography" and documentaries for the Discovery Channel and the Learning Channel. He was host of "The Soldiers' Story," an award-winning, three-part series on the Vietnam War that aired on the Learning Channel.
Smith is survived by his wife, Pamela Peffer Smith; his son, Alexander Kingsbury Smith; his mother, Benedicte Smith; and his sister, Catherine Smith.
His father died in February 2002 at the age of 87
Jack Smith Dies
Former ABC NEWS Correspondent
Dies at Age 58
April 7, 2004 Former ABCNEWS correspondent Jack Smith died today of complications from cancer. He was 58.
"Jack knew how to communicate as few others do and did it with eloquence, wit, and grace. He made an invaluable contribution to ABCNEWS and we mourn his loss," said ABCNEWS President David Westin.
Smith began as an ABCNEWS correspondent in 1976, and served as a Washington correspondent from 1980 until he left the network in 2001.
For nine years, Smith was the principal correspondent for This Week with David Brinkley, filing background reports on a wide range of topics including the collapse of communism, the Iran-Contra affair, and two presidential elections.
Before coming to Washington, he was ABCNEWS' correspondent in Paris, where he reported on a variety of international stories. He reported from Beirut, Lebanon, during the Israeli siege of that city, and in 1982 he covered the first Canadian ascent of Mount Everest, becoming the first network correspondent to report from the mountain itself. He also covered the White House and the State Department for Good Morning America.
Most recently, Smith developed the technology beat at ABCNEWS, helping create the "Cutting Edge" segments on World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. He was the only correspondent on network television who covered the digital revolution on a regular basis. His creative and innovative coverage won awards year after year.
A highly decorated Vietnam veteran, Smith was awarded both the Bronze Star with "V" for valor and the Purple Heart. In 1993, he returned to the Vietnam battlefield where he was nearly killed in 1965, reporting for Nightline and Day One in one of the most memorable reports ever done on ABCNEWS about the Vietnam War.
He received wide recognition from veterans' groups for his reporting and extensive speaking about the war and its aftermath.
Smith also used his distinctive voice and nationally recognizable presence to narrate and host many programs for A&E Biography and documentaries for The Discovery Channel and The Learning Channel. He was the host for TLC's award-winning series on the Vietnam War, The Soldiers' Story.
Smith was the son of TV news pioneer and former ABCNEWS anchor Howard K. Smith. He is survived by his wife, Pam; son, Alexander; and mother, Benedicte Traberg Smith.
Jack P. Smith was born 22 April 1945 in Paris, and grew up in London, he then moved to Washington, D.C., at age 12. At age 19, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1964. He served in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966 with 1st Cavalry Division; he was wounded at Landing Zone Albany in the Ia Drang Valley, November 17, 1965. He left the Army late in 1967 to study history at Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA. (B.A. 1971) and Oxford University, Oxford, England (B.A. 1974). While at Carnegie Mellon he worked as news producer for WIIC-TV in Pittsburgh. He joined ABC in 1974, reporting from Paris from 1976 to 1980, and from Washington, D.C. beginning in 1980; He was principal correspondent for This Week with David Brinkley from 1985 - 1994, Currently he lives in Mill Valley, California.
Thanks to ABC News for the following biography.
An ABC News correspondent since 1976, and a Washington correspondent since 1980, Jack Smith contributes to World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, Nightline and other ABC
NEWS programs. He has won one Emmy and has been nominated for two others.
For nine years, Smith was the principal correspondent for This Week with David Brinkley, filing background reports on the collapse of Communism, the Iran-Contra affair and two presidential elections.
In 1993, Smith returned to the Vietnam battlefield where he was nearly killed as a soldier in 1965, to report for Nightline and Day One. He also reported from West Beirut during the Israeli siege of that city; covered the 1982 Canadian ascent of Mt. Everest, becoming the first network correspondent to report from the mountain itself; and covered the White House and the State Department for Good Morning America.
Before coming to Washington in 1980, Smith was ABC's Paris correspondent and reported on a variety of international stories, including the death of two popes, the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia and the Iran hostage crisis.
Prior to 1976, when he joined ABC NEWS, Smith was a reporter at WLS-TV in Chicago, and from 1969-1970, a news producer at WIIC-TV in Pittsburgh.
In 1967, "Death in the Ia Drang Valley," an article Smith wrote for the Saturday Evening Post describing his experiences in Vietnam, won an Overseas Press Club Citation for Excellence for Best Magazine Reporting. Smith served in the U.S. Army from 1964-67 and was decorated with the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star with "V" for valor.
Smith holds degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University (Phi Beta Kappa) and from Oxford University, England. He is the son of former CBS commentator and ABC NEWS anchorman Howard K. Smith.
The contemporary photo of Jack P. Smith was taken in Vietnam after the battle, and after he returned to Vietnam from his convalescence in Japan. This photo is of Jack P. Smith being interviewed for ABC News by his father Howard K. Smith, the well respected ABC newsman.
The recent photo of Jack P. Smith was taken November, 1995, in Washington D.C., at a 1st Cavalry Division reunion. He was 50 years old at the time this photo was taken.
Thanks to Ron Sleeis, SaigonRon@aol.com, for the November 1995 photo.
Go Here: to read the Medal of Honor citation for Walter Joseph Marm Jr., for actions during the Ia Drang Valley battle of 1965.
Go Here to read the Medal of Honor citation for Ed W. Freeman, for actions during the Ia Drang Valley battle of 1965.
Go Here: to access an off site web page about the Ia Drang Valley battle, and an excellent book written about the events; We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young.
To read all of the Medal of Honor citations issued for actions in the Vietnam War: Go Here
To see an index page of digital photos: Go Here
This page was put up on the Internet on 17 November 1998; 33 years to the day, after the events took place.
© 2004 by Neil Mishalov