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Alumni News: Class Years 1970-1979

Smith (70) Receives 2010 Congressional Veteran Commendation.

Friday, December 3, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kristy Collins
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James "Jim” Howard Smith (73) was recently honored as a recipient of the 2010 Congressional Veteran Commendation.  A veteran of the Vietnam War, Smith was one of seven men chosen to receive the award presented by U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-7th District, in a ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond.  In 1967 at age 20, Smith chose to leave Duke University and enlist in the U.S. Navy. He said he thought that it was "patently unfair” that those who could not afford or were not intelligent enough to go to college were drafted, while college students avoided the war.
Smith’s interest in medicine led to his decision to enlist as a Navy hospital corpsman, since the Navy provided the best medical training.  He entered the service in February 1967, and left for Vietnam in October 1969.  Smith received two Bronze Star medals for his actions during his time in Vietnam, disregarding enemy fire in order to treat his fellow Marines.  During one of those incidents, Smith was injured himself, and received a Purple Heart medal.  While others hail Smith as a hero, he downplays his actions.   "Rewards for what they say is heroism, but in actuality should have been court-martial offenses,” Smith said, referring to the fact that he should have waited for injured men to be brought to him. "I just did what anyone would have done. I sort of bristle at being called a hero -- heroes are in the ground.”
After leaving Vietnam in November 1970, Smith served one more year in the Navy before returning to his family home in Donelson, Tenn., to get his bachelor’s degree from Belmont University.  He majored in religion/philosophy, chemistry and accounting.  
Smith has worked with a law firm, the IRS and several accounting firms. He is now a tax and financial consultant, and he teaches master’s degree level finance and accounting courses for Saint Mary’s University. He also stays active in the Madison community. 

While speaking at the Madison American Legion Post 157’s Nov. 11 Veterans Day program, Smith encouraged his audience to honor veterans by upholding the Constitution and exposing dishonorable members of the government.  "As you live your lives of honor, you honor veterans,” Smith said. "Remember that no person is honored for what he receives; honor is the reward for what he gives.”

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