graduate

Smith, Oliver Prince (1893-1977)


Photograph of Oliver P. Smith

National Archives #80-G-423190. Cropped by author.

A native of Texas, Oliver Smith was a Berkeley graduate commissioned into the Army during the First World War. He transferred to the Marines in 1919. He attended the Infantry School in 1931-1932 and was an instructor at Quantico in 1932-1933. As assistant naval attaché in Paris, he completed the course at the Ecole Superieur de Guerre, and in 1941-1942 he served as commander of 6 Marine Regiment in the American occupation of Iceland.

A talented planner, Smith was transferred to Marine Corps headquarters in 1942 and did not return to combat until January 1944, when he led 5 Marine Regiment on New Britain. He was promoted to brigadier general in time to serve as assistant division commander of 1 Marine Division at Peleliu. He was on the staff of Simon Buckner at Okinawa but returned to the United States to command Marine training schools.

Smith's finest moment came in the Korean War, when he led 1 Marine Division at the Chosin Reservoir. His superior had ordered him to march into the mountains from the east coast to seize a road junction needed by the then-retreating North Korean army. His division was strung out along several miles of road when the massive Chinese intervention in that war took place. Smith was able to gather his division and retreat to the coast for evacuation, a considerable feat of arms.

Retreat, hell. We're just attacking in another direction.

Smith subsequently was promoted to lieutenant general, commanded Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, and retired in 1955.

Service record

1893-10-26      

Born in Menard, Texas
1916

Graduates from University of California, Berkeley
1917-5-14
Second lieutenant     

1917-6

Marine Barracks, Guam
1919-5

Marine Barracks, Mare Island
1921-10

BB Texas
1924-5

Personnel section, Marine Corps Headquarters
1928-6

Gendarmerie d'Haiti
1931-6

Field Officers' Course, Army Infantry School
1932-6

Instructor, Quantico
1933-9

Staff, 7 Marine Regiment
1934-1

Resident officer, France
1934-11

Student, Ecole Superieture de Guerre
1836-8

Instructor, Marine Corps School
1939-7

Staff, Marine Corps Base, San Diego
1940-6
Major
6 Marines
1941
Colonel
Commander, 6 Marine Regiment, Iceland
1942-5

Executive officer, Division of Plans and Policies, Marine Corps
1944-1     

Commander, 5 Marine Regiment
1944-4
Brigadier general
Assistant division commander, 1 Marine Division
1944-11

Deputy chief of staff, 10 Army
1945-7

Commandant, Marine Corps Schools
1948-1

Commander, Marine Barracks, Quantico
1948-4

Assistant Commandant of the Corps
1950-6
Major general     
Commander, 1 Marine Division, Korea
1951-5

Commander, Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton
1953-7
Lieutenant general     
Commander, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic
1955-9-1
General
Retires
1977-12-25     

Dies

References

Dupuy et al. (1992)

Leckie (1962)

Naval Historical Center (accessed 2008-7-2)

U.S. Marine Corps Historical Division (accessed 2008-7.2)



Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional