HOLLAND M. SMITH, USMC
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General Holland McTyeire Smith, the officer who led Marines to victory island hopping across the Pacific during World War II, died on 12 January 1967 at the U.S. Naval Hospital, San Diego, California.
Sometimes called "the father of modern U.S. amphibious warfare," he was one of America's top commanders in the Pacific during World War II. He retired in 1946 after a 41-year career that included sea duty, expeditionary service from the Philippines to Haiti and World War I combat in France.
On the eve of World War II General Smith directed extensive Army, Navy and Marine amphibious training which was a major factor in successful U.S. landings in both the Atlantic and Pacific. Later he helped prepare U.S. Army and Canadian troops for the Kiska and Attu landings, then led the V Amphibious Corps in the assaults on the Gilberts, the Marshalls, and Saipan and Tinian in the Marianas.
In the latter operation, besides the V Amphibious Corps, he commanded all Expeditionary Troops in the Marianas, including those which recaptured Guam. After that he served as the first Commanding General of Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, and headed Task Force 56 (Expeditionary Troops) at Iwo Jima, which included all the assault troops in that battle.
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his part in training America's amphibious forces on both coasts; a Gold Star in lieu of a second for his planning and execution of the Gilbert and Marshall Islands operations; a Gold Star in lieu of a third for similar service in the Marianas; and a Gold Star in lieu of a fourth for his part in the invasion and capture of Iwo Jima.
Son of Mr. and Mrs. John V. Smith, the general was born 20 April 1882, in Seale, Alabama. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Alabama Polytechnic Institute in 1901, obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Alabama in 1903 and practiced law in Montgomery, Alabama, for a year before he was appointed a Marine second lieutenant 20 March 1905. (Later he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Alabama Polytechnic Institute.)
In April 1906, after completing the School of Application at Annapolis, Maryland, General Smith sailed for the Philippines, where he served on expeditionary duty with the 1st Marine Brigade until September 1908. He returned to the United States the following month and was stationed at the Marine Barracks, Annapolis, until December 1909, when he embarked for expeditionary duty in Panama. Returning from there in April 1910, he served at Annapolis; Puget Sound, Washington; San Diego, California; and the Recruiting Station, Seattle, Washington, before sailing in September 1912, to rejoin the 1st Marine Brigade in the Philippines.
This time the general remained with the 1st Brigade until April 1914, when he took command of the Marine Detachment aboard the USS Galveston. He served in that capacity in Asiatic waters until July 1915, and returned to the United States the following month for duty at the Navy Yard, New Orleans, Louisiana. From there he was ordered to the Dominican Republic in June 1916, as a member of the 4th Marine Regiment. During that unit's operations against rebel bandits, he saw action in the march to Santiago and engagements at La Pena and Kilometer 29. Returning to the United States 30 May 1917, he sailed for France just two weeks later as commander of the 8th Machine Gun Company, 5th Marines.
In France General Smith was detached from the 5th Marines and sent to the Army General Staff College at Langres, from which he was graduated in February 1918. He was then named Adjutant of the 4th Marine Brigade, in which capacity he fought in the Verdun Sector and the Aisne-Marne Defensive, including the epic Battle of Belleau Wood. Transferred to the 1st Corps, 1st Army, in July, 1918, he served as assistant operations officer in charge of liaison during the Aisne-Marne, Oisne-Aisne, St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives. After the Armistice he participated in the March to the Rhine through Belgium and Luxembourg as an assistant operations officer with the Third Army, and served with the General Staff, U.S. Army, during the occupation of Germany.
For his service at Belleau Wood the general was awarded the Croix de Guerre with palm by the French government. He also received a Meritorious Service Citation from the Commander in Chief, American Expeditionary Forces, for which he was later awarded the Purple Heart Medal.
Returning to the United States in April 1919, General Smith's assignments in the next four years included duty at Norfolk, Virginia, study at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, and service in Washington, D.C., with the War Plans Section of the Office of Naval Operations. There he was the first Marine officer to serve on the Joint Army-Navy Planning Committee. Leaving Washington in May 1923, he served aboard the battleships Wyoming and Arkansas as Fleet Marine Officer, U.S. Scouting Fleet, until September of that year.
In February 1924, after serving at Marine Corps Headquarters and in the West Indies in connection with joint Army-Navy maneuvers, the general joined the Marine Brigade on expeditionary duty in Haiti, serving as that unit's Chief of Staff and Officer in Charge of Operations and Training. He returned from that country in August 1925, to serve as Chief of Staff of the 1st Marine Brigade at Quantico, Virginia, until September 1926; as a student in the Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, from then until June 1927; and as Post Quartermaster of the Marine Barracks, Philadelphia Navy Yard, from July 1927 to March 1931.
In April 1931, the general began another tour of sea duty, this time aboard the USSCalifornia as Aide to the Commander and Force Marine Officer of the Battle Force, U.S. Fleet. He served in those capacities until June 1933, commanded the Marine Barracks at the Washington Navy Yard from then until January 1935, and served the following two years at San Francisco, California, as Chief of Staff, Department of the Pacific. From there he was ordered to Marine Corps Headquarters in March 1937, to serve two years as Director of the Division of Operations and Training, after which he was Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps under Major General Thomas Holcomb from April to September 1939.
After the latter assignment General Smith assumed command of the 1st Marine Brigade at Quantico, taking that unit to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for extended amphibious training in October 1940. In February 1941, when the brigade was redesignated the 1st Marine Division, he became that organization's first commander. He returned with the division to Quantico in April 1941, and in June of that year he was detached from it to take command of the organization which eventually became the Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet. Under this command, the 1st Marine Division and the 1st and 9th Army Divisions received their initial training in amphibious warfare.
Moving to San Diego in August 1942, the general took command of the Amphibious Corps, Pacific Fleet, under which he completed the amphibious indoctrination of the 2d and 3d Marine Divisions before they went overseas and the 7th Army Division and other units involved in the Aleutians operation. The Amphibious Corps, Pacific Fleet, was later redesignated the V Amphibious Corps, and in September 1943, as commander of that unit, General Smith arrived at Pearl Harbor to begin planning for the Gilberts campaign. He continued to head the V Amphibious Corps until August 1944, when he was named Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific , at Pearl Harbor. In addition to that post, he commanded Task Force 56 at Iwo Jima before returning to the United States in July 1945, to head the Marine Training and Replacement Command at Camp Pendleton, California. A lieutenant general when he was retired 15 May 1946, at the age of 64, he was promoted to general on the retired list for having been especially commended in combat.
As already mentioned, the general holds the Distinguished Service Medal with three Gold Stars in lieu of additional awards, the Croix de Guerre with palm and the Purple Heart Medal. His other medals and decorations include the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal with three bronze stars; the Mexican Service Medal; the Dominican Campaign Medal, the World War I Victory Medal with five sector clasps; the Army of Occupation of Germany Medal; the American Defense Service Medal with Base clasp; the American Area Campaign Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal with one silver star in lieu of five bronze stars; the World War II Victory Medal; the Dominican Order of the First Merit; and the British Order of Commander of the Bath.
Following a long illness, General Smith died 12 January 1967, at the age of 84. Funeral services were held on 14 January, at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Chapel, and the general was interred with full military honors in Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery overlooking San Diego harbor and North Island. At the time of his death, General Smith, was survived by a son, Rear Admiral John V. Smith. General Smith's wife, the former Ada B. Wilkinson, died in 1962.
General Smith resided in LaJolla, California, where he was active after his retirement, in youth activities, and pursued his hobby, gardening.