During the battle for Iwo Jima from 19 February 1945, to 26 March 1945, he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the third Distinguished Service Medal for his part in this operation. His citation reads in part, “Against determined enemy resistance and incomparable natural defenses, Major General Schmidt skillfully directed the attack of his troops to capture and occupy this strategic island. He handled the various units under his command with brilliant tactical skill. His sound judgment, distinctive administrative ability and unfailing devotion to duty were vital factors in the success of the entire operation.”
The General was born in Holdrege, Nebraska, on 25 September 1886. He attended Nebraska State Normal College before entering the Marine Corps as a second lieutenant on 17 August 1909.
Following instruction at the Marine Officers’ School at Port Royal, South Carolina, he reported in January 1911, at the Marine Barracks, Guam, Marianas Islands. While attached to this station he accompanied an expeditionary force to Chefoo, China. In October 1912, he was ordered to duty in the Philippines where he remained until detached to the United States in April 1913.
Following an assignment with the Recruiting Service in Minnesota, a tour of duty at the Marine Barracks, New Orleans, Louisiana, and temporary duty at Vera Cruz aboard the USS Kearsage in 1915, he was ordered to sea duty aboard the USSOklahoma in May, 1916. In January 1917, he went aboard the USS Montana and from 25 February to 22 March 1917, was ashore with the ship’s landing force at Guantanamo, Cuba.
Leaving the USS Montana in September 1918, he spent most of the next two years at the Marine Barracks, Norfolk, Virginia. He again went to sea in June, 1920, as Commanding Officer of the Marine Detachment aboard the USS Tennessee.
From August, 1922 to May 1926, the General was a member of the Marine Corps Schools, first as a student , then as an instructor. Then followed a year in recruiting at St. Paul, Minnesota, and a six month tour of foreign service with the Sixth Regiment in China.
From February, 1928 to June 1929, General Schmidt was with the Second Brigade of Marines in Nicaragua as Brigade Intelligence and Operations Officer.
He returned to the United States to attend the Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and graduated 18 June 1932. In addition to Command and General Staff School, he is a graduate of the Field Officers’ Course, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia.
Following graduation, he was assigned to duty with the Paymaster Department and served variously at Headquarters, Marine Corps, Washington, D.C.; with the Department of the Pacific, San Francisco; the Fourth Marine Regiment, Shanghai, China; and again with the Department of the Pacific.
In June 1937, the General was assigned to the Second Marine Brigade. He sailed for Shanghai, China, in August with the Brigade as Chief of Staff and served in that capacity until detached to the United States in February 1938.
General Schmidt was assigned to Headquarters, Marine Corps as Executive and Personnel Officer of the Paymaster Department in July 1938, in which capacity he was found upon this country’s entry into World War II.
In January 1942, he was appointed Assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps where he served until ordered to the Fourth Marine Division as Commanding General, which command he assumed on 18 August 1943.
He commanded the Fourth Division in the seizure of Roi and Namur of the Marshall Islands Group and in the battle for Saipan. On 12 July 1944, he assumed command of the Fifth Amphibious Corps and led that command in the assault and capture of Tinian Island. For exceptional meritorious service in the seizure and occupation of the Marshall Islands and in the assault and capture of Saipan and Tinian, the General was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal and a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Service Medal.
Continuing in command of the Fifth Amphibious Corps, the General led it through the Iwo Jima Operation.
Following the conclusion of hostilities, the General led the Fifth Corps in the occupation of the Japanese homeland. On 15 February 1946, he was ordered back to the United States to assume command of the Marine Training and Replacement Command, San Diego Area.
He was serving in that capacity when he concluded his brilliant 39 year career as a Marine on 1 July 1948, when he retired at the age of 61.
In addition to the Distinguished Service Medal with two Gold Stars, his decorations and medals include the Navy Cross, Nicaragua 1918; Legion of Merit (Army), Japan 1945; Bronze Star Medal, 1945; Presidential Unit Citation with One Bronze Star, Saipan and Tinian 1944; Navy Unit Commendation, Iwo Jima 1945; Expeditionary Medal with Two Bronze Stars, China 1911, Cuba 1917, China 1927-28; Mexican Service Medal, 1914; Victory Medal with Convoy and Escort Clasp, 1918; Yangtze Service Medal, China 1927; Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal, 1928-30; China Service Medal, 1937-38; American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Nicaraguan Medal of Distinction (with Diploma); and the Nicaraguan Medal of Merit with Silver Star.