The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, PFC Stephen Jay Smith, who died in the service of his country on October 9th, 1967 in Quang Tin Province, Vietnam. The cause of death was listed as Small Arms/AW. At the time of his death Stephen was 24 years of age. He was from Mount Vernon, Illinois. Stephen is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 27E, Line 83.
The decorations earned by PFC Stephen Jay Smith include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star with V, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.
From The Mt. Vernon Register News)
For the seventh time since the Vietnam War began, a bereaved family faces the sad task of making funeral arrangements for a fine young Jefferson county man who has sacrificed his life for his country.
The seventh county victim of the war is Private First Class Stephen Jay Smith, of Route 4, Mt. Vernon. Stephen, who could have been going to college if he had lived in a peaceful world, was killed Monday in Vietnam combat.
He was 24 years, two months, and two days old. For five months he had been fighting for his country, having arrived in Vietnam in May of this year. The sad news of the young soldier's death was given to his wife Elizabeth while she was at work at the local Social Security office.
Pfc. Smith was a graduate of Mt. Vernon High School, class of 1961, and earned his associate degree at Mt. Vernon Community College.
The young soldier was born August 7, 1943 at Peoria, the son of Omar H. and Mary (Slankard) Smith. On April 17, 1964 he was married to Elizabeth Baltzell at the First Church of God in Mt. Vernon.
Besides his wife and parents, he is survived by: three brothers, Ronnie and Jim of Mt. Vernon; Robin of McLeansboro; and his grandparents, Reverend and Mrs. Hosea V Smith of Mt. Vernon.
Stephen is buried in Mt. Vernon Memorial Gardens Cemetery.
(His BSV Citation)
General Orders 3514, Award of The Bronze Star Medal for Heroism, 4th Division, 24 October 1967
For heroism in connection with military operations against an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. On 9 October 1967, Private First Class Smith distinguished himself while serving as a Rifleman with Company A, 1/35th Infantry, on a search and destroy mission near LZ Mary Lou. Private First Class Smith's platoon was approaching a suspected enemy concentration when it began receiving fire from enemy positions concealed in the thick underbrush. The platoon immediately began to engage the enemy, but the success of the struggle was jeopardized by an enemy machine gun so positioned that it could deliver formidable and highly accurate fire on the advancing platoon. Disregarding the peril to his life, Private First Class Smith charged forward through the intense hostile fire and single-handedly destroyed the machine gun. He was mortally wounded before he could return to safety, but by his timely and decisive action he eliminated a grave danger to his platoon and saved the lives of many of his comrades. His initiative and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy were an inspiration to his fellow platoon members and aided greatly in the accomplishment of the unit's mission. Private First Class Smith's personal bravery and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the United States Army.