2023 // Distinguished Service Cross

Mark A. Smith

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Captain (Infantry) Mark A. Smith, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force while serving as the Senior Battalion Liaison Officer to the 9th Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division, Army of the Republic of Vietnam.  Beginning on 5 April 1972, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces launched a major offensive with the objective of capturing Binh Long Province in Military Region Three.  The 5th Viet Cong Division was targeted against Loc Ninh, the capital of Loc Ninh District, in northern Binh Long Province.  The 5th Viet Cong Division launched a massive coordinated ground attack against Loc Ninh beginning early in the morning of 5 April 1972.  The attack was supported by artillery and tanks.  Captain Smith skillfully directed tactical airstrikes and helicopter gunships in support of the 9th Infantry Regiment and other South Vietnamese forces in the area.  To inflict the maximum casualties on the enemy and to bring the fires as close as possible to the friendly forces, he left the safety of his bunker and moved throughout the area seeking strategic vantage points from which he directed friendly fire.  Time and time again he directed the fighters, bombers, gunships and artillery fire on top of his own position to drive off the attacking enemy.  The combination of Captain Smith’s courage and professional skills coupled with all available firepower kept the enemy at bay for more than two days.  Captain Smith’s extraordinary heroism was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Army and reflected great credit upon himself and the military service.


Note: Captain Smith was taken prisoner on 7 April 1972 and after spending 312 days in captivity in Cambodia, Captain Smith was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973.