Lonnie Leo Smith

Staff Sergeant
Army of the United States
10 September 1938 - 20 May 1967
Terrell, Texas
Panel 20E Line 068


Purple Heart, Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
Lonnie Leo Smith

The database page for Lonnie Leo Smith

30 Apr 2002

Staff Sergeant Lonnie Smith served 4 years in the Navy before joining the Army in November 1960. He served continuously in the Army until his death in 1967, after almost 9 months' Vietnam service. Before his tour in Vietnam, he served in Korea and with the 64th Armor, 3rd Infantry Division.

In Vietnam, Staff Sergeant Lonnie Smith was a tank commander in C Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry. In early 1967, he participated in the famed battles around Hill 881 near the Marine base at Khe Sanh, southeast of the Laos/North Vietnam/South Vietnam border area.

With just over three months remaining on his Vietnam tour, Lonnie was killed in action. I am told he was a hero. When one of his men couldn't get his tank's turrent hatch closed, my father ran to the tank and shut the hatch. He received his fatal wounds before he could return to his own tank.

Lonnie's sister, JoAnn Jackson, and many nieces live in San Antonio, Texas. He is loved dearly and will never be forgotten.

I was only 3 years old when my father died in Vietnam, and I have many unanswered questions about his service there. I would love the opportunity to speak with anyone who knew my father, or anyone who served with him or under his command. I desperately want answers to those unanswered questions.

Please email me or call me at 214-914-1548 (cell).

Susanne Smith
3109 Sandra Ln Rowlett Texas 75088


Under the mounds of earth and dew,
beneath the sky above,
wrapped in a chest of mahogany hue,
beneath the world they loved,

Remembered and loved,
these ageless men,
never again to rise,
resting as only the brave men
can under the threatening skies.

His love of land was once so great,
he died to give her birth,
and now at last we dedicate
protection by the Earth.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 19-20 May 1967 Companies A and C 2/35th Inf, combined with C Troop 3/4th Cav, were in action at the village of Vinh Hien, about 3 miles northwest of Duc Pho in Quang Ngai Province. The two day battle saw the Cacti claim 89 VC killed in action and a major VC complex destroyed, but at the cost of nine American dead:
  • A Co, 2nd Bn, 35th Inf Rgt
    • SP4 Carl D. Nagengast, Long Beach, CA
    • PFC Rudolph R. Corona, Pacific Grove, CA
    • PFC Carnell E. Watson, Houston, TX

  • C Co, 2nd Bn, 35th Inf Rgt
    • PFC Gary M. Killian, Hazel Park, MI
    • PFC Joseph Ledesma, San Jose, CA
    • PFC Roland E. Rush, Kensington, GA

  • C Trp, 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav Rgt
    • SSG Lonnie L. Smith, Terrell, TX
    • SGT Ivy M. McCarroll, Covington, LA

  • C Btry, 2nd Bn, 9th Arty Rgt
    • 1LT William H. Farmer, Fayetteville, NC (Silver Star) (FO w/ C/2/35; DoW 05/29/1967)
The 35th Infantry web site has an extract of the After Action Report which describes the circumstances of SSG Smith's death:
"At 0900H [on 20 May], A/2-35 located a VC bunker complex 100 meters west of their night location. An engineer squad from D Company, 65th Eng Battalion, was airlifted with explosives to the LZ and was carried by an APC to that location. Elements from both C/3-4 Cav and A/2-35 provided security while the engineers worked on the destruction of the VC. camp and its bunker complex.

"At 1221H, this work party came under attack by the enemy. Firing RPG-2's, the enemy hit one of the APC's, killing the track commander and driver. The APC was destroyed. In reinforcing the engineer work party A/2-35 (-) and C/3-4 Cav (-) met heavy enemy resistance, but aggressively fought through it driving them to the southwest."

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 08/10/2009