General O.P. Smith


General O. P. Smith

Major General Oliver P. Smith, Commanding General, First Marine Division, Camp Joseph H. Pendleton, Oceanside, California, Commanded the Fifth Marine Regiment, First Marine Division, in the Talasea phase of the Cape Gloucester operation during March, 1944, and was Assistant Division Commander of the First Marine Division during the Peleliu operation in September and October, 1944, and was Marine Deputy Chief of Staff of the Tenth Army during the Okinawa operation in 1945.
For outstanding services in the above capacities he was awarded respectively a Bronze Star Medal, Legion of Merit, and an Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a second Legion of Merit.
His citation for he Legion of Merit, awarded for services as Assistant Division Commander of the First Marine Division during action against the enemy on Peleliu and Ngesebus Islands of the Palau Group during September and October, 1944, reads in part, "Brigadier General Smith displayed marked professional skill in supervision the training of the division in landing operations, greatly enhancing its efficiency in the technique of reef landing to a point where successful landings on both islands were made under the most difficult of conditions."
"Although the initial beachhead was under intense enemy fire, Brigadier General Smith coolly coordinated the three assault regimental combat teams so that the division was able to advance to its initial objectives, repulse several intense counterattacks, and launch an attack which gained the Peleliu airdrome."
General Smith was born on October 26, 1893, in Menard, Texas. He attended the University of California, Berkeley, California, where he graduated in 1916. He reported for active duty as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps on May 14, 1917.
He sailed for Guam, Marianas Islands, in June, 1917, where he was on duty at the Marine Barracks, Naval Station. He returned to this country in May, 1919, and was stationed at the Marine Barracks, Mare Island, California.
In October, 1921, General Smith went to sea duty as Commanding Officer, Marine Detachment aboard the USS TEXAS.
Following relief from sea duty he was assigned to the Personnel Section at Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington D.C., in May, 1924.
General Smith went overseas for the second time in June, 1928, when he joined the Gendarmerie D'Haiti, Port-au-Prince, where he was Assistant Chief of Staff. Following his return from foreign shore duty in June, 1931, he was assigned as a student at the Field Officers' Course at the Army Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia.
Upon graduation in June, 1932, he was ordered to duty at the Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia, where he served as an instructor in the Company Officers' Course. In September, 1933, he become Assistant Operations Officer of the Seventh Marine Regiment at Quantico.
General Smith sailed for France in January, 1934, where he joined the staff of the American Embassy at Paris for duty with the office of the U.S. Naval Attache. From November, 1934, to July, 1936, while in Paris, he was under instruction at the Ecole Superieure de Guerre.
He returned to the United States in August, 1936, and joined the staff of the Marine Corps Schools at Quantico, Virginia where he was an instructor in the Three Section, (Operations and Training). General Smith was transferred to the West Coast in July, 1939, where he joined the Fleet Marine Force as Operations Officer at the Marine Corps Base.
In June of the following year General Smith became Commanding Officer of the First Battalion of the Sixth Marines and in May, 1941, sailed with the regiment for Iceland where he remained until returning to the United States in March, 1942.
In May of the same year the General was ordered to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., where he became Executive Officer of the Division of Plans and Policies. He remained in this capacity until January, 1944, when he joined the First Marine Division on New Britain, where he took command of the Fifth Marines and subsequently led the regiment in the Talasea phase of the Cape Gloucester operation where he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal.
In April, 1944, he was named Assistant Division Commander of the First Marine Division and participated in operations against the Japanese in the Peleliu operation during September and October, 1944, and received the Legion of Merit.
General Smith was named Marine Deputy Chief of Staff of the Tenth Army in November, 1944, and participated in the Okinawa operation from April through June, 1945, where he was awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster in Lieu of a second Legion of Merit for his outstanding services.
In July, 1945, the General returned to the United States, and become Commandant of the Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia, and in January, 1948, was named Commanding General, Marine Barracks, Quantico, in addition to his duties at the Schools. Three months later, General Smith was named Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Chief of Staff, Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington D. C. He assumed command of the First Marine Division in June, 1950.
In addition to the Legion of Merit and the Oak Leaf Cluster in Lieu of a second Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal, his decorations and medals include the marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, Haiti 1929-31; Victory medal; American Defense Service medal with one Bronze Star; European-
African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three Bronze Stars; American Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Haitian Distinguished Service Medal with Diploma; and the Order of Orange-Nassau, Rank of Commander.
The General is married to Mrs. Esther King Smith. They have two daughters, Mrs. Chester J. Wolf and Mrs. Charles C. Benedict

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