An Orange County man who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War was honored Thursday at the courthouse.
County Mayor Teresa Jacobs dedicated a display for Cpl. Larry Eugene Smedley, with the Marine Corps, who was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
Smedley’s medal and portrait will stay on display in the rotunda.
“It’s a merit to him. I mean the military was his life. And so, I mean it’s fitting that he gave his life. That was his, everything he was about was military. Going in at such a young age, Aunt Mary had to sign for him to go in the military. That’s what he wanted to do. So it’s a real honor to our family and I’m sorry Aunt Mary’s not able to be here, she’s up way up in Front Royal, Virginia, but it’s a real honor that we’re able to share this with the Central Florida community,” said Bob Smedley, a cousin.
Smedley attended Colonial High School and is the only person from Orange County to have been given top military honor.
The portrait for the display was painted by an artist with Lockheed Martin.
Below is the Medal of Honor Citation:
“On the evening of 20-21 December 1967, Corporal Smedley led his six-man squad to an ambush site at the mouth of Happy Valley, near Phouc Ninh (2) in Quang Nam Province. Later that night, an estimated 100 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army Regulars, carrying 122mm rocket launchers and mortars, were observed moving toward Hill 41.
Realizing this was a significant enemy move to launch an attack on the vital Danang complex, Corporal Smedley immediately took sound and courageous actions to stop the enemy threat. After he radioed for a reactions force, he skillfully maneuvered his men to a more advantageous position and led an attack on the numerically superior enemy force. A heavy volume of fire from an enemy machine gun positioned on the left flank of the squad inflicted several casualties on Corporal Smedley’s unit.
Simultaneously, an enemy rifle grenade exploded nearby, wounding him in the right foot and knocking him to the ground. Corporal Smedley disregarded this serious injury and valiantly struggled to his feet, shouting words of encouragement to his men. He fearlessly led a charge against the enemy machine gun emplacement, firing his rifle and throwing grenades, until he was again struck by enemy fire and knocked to the ground.
Gravely wounded and weak from loss of blood, he rose and commenced a one-man assault against the enemy position. Although his aggressive and singlehanded attack resulted in the destruction of the machine gun, he was struck in the chest by enemy fire and fell mortally wounded.
Corporal Smedley’s inspiring and courageous actions, bold initiative, and selfless devotion to duty in the face of certain death were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”