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First Name: Walter

Last Name: Smith

Birthplace: Indianapolis, IN, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Bedell

Date of Birth: 05 October 1895

Date of Death: 09 August 1961

Rank: General

Years Served: 1911-1953
Walter Bedell Smith

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Walter Bedell "Beetle" Smith
General, U.S. Army

Walter Bedell Smith was born in Indianapolis, IN, on 5 October 1895, the eldest of two sons of William Long Smith, a silk buyer for the Pettis Dry Goods Company, and his wife Ida Francis née Bedell, who worked for the same company. Smith was known as Bedell from childhood. From an early age he was nicknamed "Beetle," or occasionally "Beedle" or "Boodle." He was educated at St. Peter and Paul School, Public schools #10 and #29, Oliver Perry Morton School, and Emmerich Manual High School, where he trained as a machinist. While still there, he took a job at the National Motor Vehicle Company, and eventually left high school without graduating. Smith enrolled at Butler University but his father developed serious health problems, and Smith left university to return to his job and support his family.

Military Career

In 1911, Smith enlisted as a Private in Company D of the 2nd Indiana Infantry of the Indiana National Guard; he was only 16. The Indiana National Guard was called out twice in 1913, for the 1913 Ohio flood and a streetcar strike. Smith was promoted to Corporal and then Sergeant. During the Pancho Villa Expedition he served on the staff of the Indiana National Guard. In 1913 he met Mary Eleanor (Nory) Cline, and they were married in a traditional Roman Catholic wedding ceremony on 1 July 1917. Their marriage was of long duration but produced no children.

World War I

Smith's work during the 1913 flood led to his nomination for officer training in 1917 and he was sent to the Officer Candidate Training Camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison. Upon graduation on 27 November 1917, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. He was then posted to the newly formed Company A, 1st Battalion, 39th Infantry, part of the 4th Division at Camp Greene, NC. The 4th Division embarked for Europe (then embroiled in World War I) from Hoboken, NJ, on 9 May 1918, reaching Brest, France, on 23 May. After training with the British and French Armies, the 4th Division entered the line in June 1918, joining the Aisne-Marne Offensive on 18 July 1918. Smith was wounded by shell fragments in an attack two days later.

He was returned to the U.S. for service with the War Department General Staff and was assigned to the Military Intelligence Division. In September 1918, he was commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the Regular Army. He was then sent to the newly formed 379th Infantry as its intelligence officer. This regiment was part of the 95th Division, based at Camp Sherman, OH.

The Inter-War Years

The 95th Division was disbanded following the Armistice with Germany in November 1918 and, in February 1919, Smith was posted to Camp Dodge, IA, where he was involved with the disposal of surplus equipment and supplies. In March 1919, he was transferred to the 2nd Infantry, a regular unit based at Camp Dodge, remaining there until November 1919, when it moved to Camp Sherman. The staff of the 2nd Infantry moved to Fort Sheridan, IL, in 1921. In 1922, Smith became aide-de-camp to Brigadier General George Van Horn Moseley, Commander of the 12th Infantry Brigade at Fort Sheridan. During 1925-29 Smith worked as an assistant in the Bureau of the Budget. He then served a two-year tour of duty overseas on the staff of the 45th Infantry at Fort William McKinley in the Philippines. After nine years as a First Lieutenant, he was promoted to Captain in September 1929.

Returning to the U.S., Smith reported to the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, GA, in March 1931. Upon graduation in June 1932, he stayed on as an instructor in the Weapons Section, where he was responsible for demonstrating weapons like the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle. In 1933 he was sent to the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, KS. Afterward, he returned to the Infantry School but was detached again to attend the Army War College, from which he graduated in 1937. He returned to the Infantry School once more, where he was promoted to Major on 1 January 1939 after nine years as a Captain. Such slow promotion was common in the Army in the 1920s and 1930s. Officers like Smith, who were commissioned between November 1916 and November 1918, made up 55.6 percent of the Army's officers in 1926. Promotions were usually based on seniority, and the modest objective of promoting officers to major after seventeen years of service could not be met owing to a shortage of posts for them to fill.

World War II

(Washington, DC )

When General George C. Marshall became the Army's Chief of Staff in September 1939, he brought Smith to Washington, DC, to be the Assistant to the Secretary of the General Staff. The Secretary of the General Staff was primarily concerned with records, paperwork and the collection of statistics, but also performed a great deal of analysis, liaison and administration. One of Smith's duties was liaison with Major General Edwin "Pa" Watson, the Senior Military Aide to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Smith was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 4 May 1941 and then Colonel on 30 August 1941. On 1 September, the Secretary of the General Staff, Colonel Orlando Ward, was given command of the 1st Armored Division and Smith became Secretary of the General Staff.

The Arcadia Conference, which was held in Washington, DC, December 1941 and January 1942, mandated the creation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a counterpart to the British Chiefs of Staff Committee, and Smith was named its Secretary on 23 January 1942. The same conference also saw the creation of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, which consisted of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Chiefs of Staff Committee meeting as a single body. Brigadier Vivian Dykes of the British Joint Staff Mission initially provided the secretarial arrangements for the new organization but Marshall felt that an American secretariat was required, and appointed Smith as Secretary of the Combined Chiefs as well as of the Joint Chiefs. Since Dykes was senior to Smith, and Marshall wanted Smith to be in charge, Smith was promoted to Brigadier General on 2 February 1942. He assumed the new post a week later, with Dykes as his deputy. The two men worked in partnership to create and organize the secretariat, and to build the Combined Chiefs of Staff organization into one that could coordinate the war efforts of the two allies. Smith's duties involved participation in discussions at the highest level, and he often briefed President Roosevelt on strategic matters. However Smith became frustrated as he watched other officers receive the operational commands that he desired. He later remarked: "That year I spent working as secretary of the general staff for George Marshall was one of the most rewarding of my entire career and the unhappiest year of my life."

(North African Theater)

When Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed commander of the European Theater of Operations in June 1942, he requested that Smith be sent from Washington as his Chief of Staff. Smith's record as a staff officer and his proven ability to work harmoniously with the British made him a natural choice for the post. Reluctantly, Marshall acceded to this request, and Smith took over as Chief of Staff at Allied Forces Headquarters (AFHQ) on 15 September 1942. Reporting to him were two Deputy Chiefs of Staff, Brigadier General Alfred Gruenther and Brigadier John Whiteley, and the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Major General Humfrey Gale.

AFHQ was a balanced bi-national organization in which the chief of each section was paired with a deputy of the other nationality. Its structure was generally American, but with some British aspects. For example, Gale as CAO controlled both personnel and supply functions, which under the American system would have reported directly to Smith. Initially AFHQ was located in London, but it moved to Algiers in November and December 1942, with Smith arriving on 11 December. Although AFHQ had an authorized strength of only 700, Smith aggressively expanded it. By January 1943, its American component alone was 1,406 and its strength eventually topped 4,000. As Chief of Staff, Smith zealously guarded access to Eisenhower. He acquired a reputation as a tough and brusque manager, and was often referred to as Eisenhower's "hatchet man."

Pending the organization of the North African Theater of Operations, U.S. Army (NATOUSA), Smith also acted as its chief of staff until 15 February, when Brigadier General Everett S. Hughes became Deputy Theater Commander and Commanding General of the Communications Zone. The relationship between Smith and Hughes, an old friend of Eisenhower's, was tense, with Smith accusing Hughes of "empire building," and the two clashing over trivial issues. In Algiers, Smith and Eisenhower seldom socialized together. Smith conducted formal dinners at his villa, an estate surrounded by gardens and terraces, with two large drawing rooms decorated with mosaics, oriental rugs and art treasures. Like Eisenhower, Smith had a female companion, a nurse, Captain Ethel Westerman.

Following the disastrous Battle of the Kasserine Pass, Eisenhower sent Smith forward to report on the state of affairs at II Corps. Smith recommended the relief of its commander, Major General Lloyd Fredendall, as did General Harold Alexander and Major Generals Omar Bradley and Lucian Truscott. On their advice, Eisenhower replaced Fredenhall with Major General George S. Patton. Eisenhower also relieved his Assistant Chief of Staff Intelligence (G-2), Brigadier Eric Mockler-Ferryman, pinpointing faulty intelligence at AFHQ as a contributing factor in the defeat at Kasserine. Mockler-Ferryman was replaced by Brigadier Kenneth Strong.

The defeat at Kasserine strained relations between the Allies, and another crisis developed when II Corps reported that enemy aviation was operating at will over its sector owing to an absence of Allied air cover. This elicited a scathing response from Air Marshal Arthur Coningham on the competence of American troops. Eisenhower drafted a letter to Marshall suggesting that Coningham should be relieved as he could not control the acrimony between senior Allied commanders, but Smith persuaded him not to send it. Instead, Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder, Major General Carl Spaatz and Brigadier General Laurence S. Kuter paid Patton a visit at his headquarters. Their meeting was interrupted by a German air raid which convinced the airmen that Patton had a point. Coningham withdrew his circular and apologized.

For the Allied invasion of Sicily, the Combined Chiefs of Staff designated Eisenhower as overall commander but ordered the three component commanders, Alexander, Tedder and Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham, to "cooperate." To Eisenhower, this command arrangement meant a reversion to the British "committee system." He drafted a cable to the Combined Chiefs demanding a unified command structure, but Smith persuaded him to tear it up. Disagreements arose between Allied commanders over the operational plan, which called for a series of dispersed landings, based on the air, naval and logistical planners' desire for the early capture of ports and airfields. General Bernard Montgomery, the commander of the British Eighth Army, objected to this aspect of the plan, as it exposed the Allied forces to destruction in detail. Montgomery put forward an alternate plan that involved the American and British forces landing side by side. He convinced Smith that his alternate plan was sound, and the two men then persuaded the other Allied commanders. Montgomery's plan provided for the early seizure of airfields, which satisfied Tedder and Cunningham. The fears of logisticians like Major General Thomas B. Larkin, that supply would not be practical without a port, were resolved by the use of DUKWs.

In August 1943, Smith and Strong flew to Lisbon via Gibraltar in civilian clothes, where they met with Generale di Brigata Giuseppe Castellano at the British embassy. While Castellano had hoped to arrange terms for Italy to join the United Nations, Smith was empowered to draw up an armistice between Italy and Allied armed forces but was unable to negotiate political matters. On 3 September, Smith and Castellano signed the agreed text on behalf of Eisenhower and Pietro Badoglio respectively in a simple ceremony beneath an olive tree at Cassibile, Sicily. In October, Smith traveled to Washington for two weeks to represent Eisenhower in a series of meetings, including one with President Roosevelt at Hyde Park, NY, on 10 October.

(European Theater)

In December 1943, Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Allied Commander for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy. Eisenhower wished to take Smith and other key members of his AFHQ staff with him to his new assignment, but Prime Minister Winston Churchill wanted to retain Smith at AFHQ as Deputy Supreme Commander in the Mediterranean. Churchill reluctantly gave way at Eisenhower's insistence. On New Year's Eve, Smith met with General Sir Alan Brooke to discuss the transfer of key British staff from AFHQ to Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). Brooke released Gale only after a strong appeal from Smith, and refused to transfer Strong. A heated exchange resulted, and Brooke later complained to Eisenhower about Smith's behavior. It was the only time that a senior British officer ever complained about Smith. Whiteley became Chief of Intelligence (G-2) at SHAEF instead of Strong, but Eisenhower and Smith eventually had their way and Strong assumed the post on 25 May 1944, with Brigadier General Thomas J. Betts as his deputy.

Smith was promoted to Lieutenant General and made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in January 1944. On 18 January he set out for London with two and a half tons of personal baggage loaded onto a pair of B-17s. The staff of the Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander (COSSAC) was already active, and had been planning the Overlord operation for some time. It was absorbed into SHAEF, with COSSAC, Major General Frederick Morgan, becoming Smith's Deputy Chief of Staff at SHAEF. Gale also held the title of Deputy Chief of Staff, as well as being Chief Administrative Officer, and there was also a Deputy Chief of Staff (Air), Air Vice-Marshal James Robb. The heads of the other staff divisions were Major General Ray W. Barker (G-1), Major General Harold R. Bull (G-3), Major General Robert W. Crawford (G-4) and Major General Sir Roger Lumley (G-5).

Morgan had located his COSSAC headquarters in Norfolk House at 31 St. James's Square, London, but Smith moved it to Bushy Park on the outskirts of London in line with Eisenhower's express desire not to have his headquarters in a major city. A hutted camp was built with 130,000 square feet of floor space. By the time Overlord began, accommodation had been provided for 750 officers and 6,000 enlisted personnel. Eisenhower and Smith's offices were in a subterranean complex. Smith's office was spartan, dominated by a large portrait of Marshall. An advanced command post, codenamed Sharpener, was established near Portsmouth, where Montgomery's 21st Army Group and Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay's Allied Naval Expeditionary Force headquarters were located.

Ground operations were initially controlled by Montgomery, but SHAEF Forward headquarters moved to Jullouville in August and, on 1 September, Eisenhower assumed control of Bradley's 12th Army Group and Montgomery's 21st Army Group. Smith soon realized that he had made a mistake; the forward headquarters was remote and inaccessible, and lacked the necessary communications. On 6 September, Eisenhower ordered both SHAEF Forward and SHAEF Main to move to Versailles as soon as possible. SHAEF Forward began its move on 15 September and opened at Versailles on 20 September. SHAEF Main followed, moving from Bushy Park by air. This move was completed by October, and SHAEF remained there until 17 February 1945, when SHAEF Forward moved to Reims. By this time, SHAEF had grown in size to 16,000 personnel, of whom 10,000 were American and 6,000 British.

By November 1944, Strong was reporting that there was a possibility of a German counter-offensive in the Ardennes or the Vosges. Smith sent Strong to personally warn Bradley, who was preparing an offensive of his own. The magnitude and ferocity of the German Ardennes Offensive came as a shock, and Smith had to defend Strong against criticism for failing to sound the alarm. He felt that Strong had given ample warning, which had been discounted or disregarded by himself and others. Once battle was joined, Eisenhower acted decisively, committing the two armored divisions in the 12th Army Group's reserve over Bradley's objection, along with his own meager reserves, two airborne divisions. Whiteley and Betts visited US First Army headquarters and were unimpressed with the way it was handling the situation. Strong, Whiteley and Betts recommended that command of the armies north of the Ardennes be transferred from Bradley to Montgomery. Smith's immediate reaction was to dismiss the suggestion out of hand. He told Strong and Whiteley that they were fired and should pack their bags and return to the United Kingdom. The next morning, Smith apologized. He had had second thoughts and informed them that he would present their recommendation to Eisenhower as his own. He realized the military and political implications of this, and knew that such a recommendation had to come from an American officer. On 20 December he recommended it to Eisenhower, who phoned Bradley and Montgomery and ordered it. This decision was greatly resented by many Americans, particularly at 12th Army Group, who felt that the action discredited the US Army's command.

Heavy casualties since the start of Overlord resulted in a critical shortage of infantry replacements, even before the crisis situation created by the Ardennes Offensive. Steps were taken to divert men from Communications Zone units. The commander of the Communication Zone, Lieutenant General John C. H. Lee, persuaded Eisenhower to allow soldiers to volunteer for service "without regard to color or race to the units where assistance is most needed, and give you the opportunity of fighting shoulder to shoulder to bring about victory." Smith immediately grasped the political implications of this. He put his position to Eisenhower in writing:

"Although I am now somewhat out of touch with the War Department's Negro policy, I did, as you know, handle this during the time I was with General Marshall. Unless there has been a radical change, the sentence which I have marked in the attached circular letter will place the War Department in very grave difficulties. It is inevitable that this statement will get out, and equally inevitable that the result will be that every Negro organization, pressure group and newspaper will take the attitude that, while the War Department segregates colored troops into organizations of their own against the desires and pleas of all the Negro race, the Army is perfectly willing to put them in the front lines mixed in units with white soldiers, and have them do battle when an emergency arises. Two years ago I would have considered the marked statement the most dangerous thing that I had ever seen in regard to Negro relations. I have talked with Lee about it, and he can't see this at all. He believes that it is right that colored and white soldiers should be mixed in the same company. With this belief I do not argue, but the War Department policy is different. Since I am convinced that this circular letter will have the most serious repercussions in the United States, I believe that it is our duty to draw the War Department's attention to the fact that this statement has been made, to give them warning as to what may happen and any facts which they may use to counter the pressure which will undoubtedly be placed on them."

The policy was revised, with Negro soldiers serving in provisional platoons. In the 12th Army Group these were attached to regiments, while in the 6th Army Group the platoons were grouped into companies attached to division. The former were generally better rated by the formations they were attached to, because the Negro platoons had no company-level unit training.

On 15 April 1945, Nazi governor (Reichskommissar) of the Netherlands, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, offered to open Amsterdam to food and coal shipments to ease the suffering of the civilian population. Smith and Strong, representing SHAEF, along with Major General Ivan Susloparov representing the USSR, Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld representing the Dutch government, and Major General Sir Francis de Guingand from 21st Army Group, met with Seyss-Inquart in the Dutch village of Achterveld on 30 April. After threatening Seyss-Inquart with prosecution for war crimes, Smith successfully negotiated for the provision of food to the starving Dutch civilian population in the cities in the west of the country, and opened discussions for the peaceful and complete German capitulation in Holland that would follow on 5 May.

Smith had to conduct another set of surrender negotiations, that of the German armed forces, in May 1945. Smith met with the representatives of the German Armed Forces high command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht), Colonel General Alfred Jodl and Admiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg. Once again, Strong acted as translator. Smith took a hard line, threatening that unless terms were accepted, the Allies would seal the front, forcing the remaining Germans into Soviet hands, but made some concessions regarding a ceasefire before the surrender came into effect. On 7 May, Smith signed the surrender document, along with Susloparov and the French representative, Major General François Sevez.

The Post-War Years

Ambassador to the Soviet Union

Smith briefly returned to the U.S. in June 1945. In August, Eisenhower nominated Smith as his successor as commander of "US Forces, European Theater" as ETOUSA was re-designated on 1 July 1945. Smith was passed over in favor of General Lucius D. Clay. When Eisenhower took over as Chief of Staff of the U.S Army in November 1945, he summoned Smith to become his Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and Planning. However, soon after his arrival back in Washington, he was asked by President Harry S. Truman and Secretary of State James F. Byrnes to become the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union. In putting Smith's nomination for the post before Congress, Truman asked for and received special legislation permitting Smith to retain his permanent military rank of Major General.

The ambassadorship was not a success. Although no fault of Smith's, during his tenure the relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union rapidly deteriorated as the Cold War set in. Smith's tenacity of purpose came across as a lack of flexibility and did nothing to allay Soviet fears about American intentions. He became thoroughly disillusioned and turned into a hardened cold warrior that saw the Soviet Union as a secretive, totalitarian and antagonistic state. In My Three Years in Moscow (1950), Smith's account of his time as ambassador, he wrote:

"... we are forced into a continuing struggle for a free way of life that may extend over a period of many years. We dare not allow ourselves any false sense of security. We must anticipate that the Soviet tactic will be to wear us down, to exasperate us, and to keep probing for weak spots, and we must cultivate firmness and patience to a degree we have never before required."

Smith returned to the U.S. in March 1949. Truman offered him the post of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs but Smith declined the appointment, preferring to return to military duty. He was appointed commander of First U.S. Army at Fort Jay, Governors Island, NY. The post, his first command since 1918, was an easy job for generous pay. Throughout the war, Smith had been troubled by a recurring stomach ulcer. Now it became acute; no longer able eat a normal diet, he was suffering from malnutrition. Smith was admitted to Walter Reed Hospital, where the doctors decided to remove most of his stomach. This did cure his ulcer, but he remained undernourished and thin.

Director of Central Intelligence

In 1950, Truman selected Smith as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), the head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Since the post had been established in 1946, there had been three directors, none of whom had wanted the job. The 1949 Intelligence Survey Group had produced the Dulles-Jackson-Correa Report, which found that the CIA had failed in its responsibilities in both the coordination and production of intelligence. In response, the National Security Council accepted the conclusions and recommendations of the report. It remained to implement them. In May 1950 President Truman decided that Smith was the man he needed for the CIA. Before Smith could assume the post on 7 October, there was a major intelligence failure. The North Korean invasion of South Korea in June 1950, which started the Korean War, took the administration entirely by surprise and raised fears of a third world war. Since Smith knew little about the Agency, he asked for a deputy who did. Sidney Souers, the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council, recommended William Harding Jackson, one of the authors of the Dulles-Jackson-Correa Report, to Smith. Jackson accepted the post of Deputy Director on three conditions, one of which was "no bawling out."

Smith and Jackson moved to reorganize the agency in line with the recommendations of the Dulles-Jackson-Correa Report. They streamlined procedures for gathering and disseminating intelligence. On 10 October, Smith was asked to prepare estimates for the Wake Island Conference between the President and General Douglas MacArthur. Smith insisted that the estimates be simple, readable, conclusive and useful rather than mere background. They reflected the best information available, but unfortunately, one estimate concluded that the Chinese would not intervene in Korea; another major intelligence failure. Four months after the outbreak of war, the Agency had produced no coordinated estimate of the situation in Korea. Smith created a new Office of National Estimates (ONE) under the direction of William L. Langer, the Harvard historian who had led the Research and Analysis branch of the wartime Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Langer's staff created procedures that were followed for the next two decades. Smith stepped up efforts to obtain economic, psychological, and photo intelligence. By 1 December, Smith had formed a Directorate for Administration. The Agency would ultimately be divided by function into three directorates: Administration, Plans, and Intelligence.

Smith is remembered in the CIA as its first successful DCI, and one of its most effective, who redefined its structure and mission. The CIA's expansive covert action program remained the responsibility of Frank Wisner's quasi-independent Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), but Smith began to bring OPC under the DCI's control. In early January 1951, he made Allen Dulles the first Deputy Director for Plans (DDP), to supervise both OPC and the CIA's separate espionage organization, the Office of Special Operations (OSO). Not until January 1952 were all intelligence functions consolidated under a Deputy Director for Intelligence (DDI). Wisner succeeded Dulles as DDP in August 1951, and it took until August 1952 to merge OSO and OPC, each of which had its own culture, methods, and pay scales, into an effective, single directorate. By consolidating responsibility for covert operations, Smith made the CIA the arm of government primarily responsible for them. Smith wanted the CIA to become a career service. Before the war, the so-called "Manchu Law" limited the duration of an officer's temporary assignments, which effectively prevented anyone from making a career as a general staff officer. There were no schools for intelligence training, and staffs had little to do in peacetime. Career officers therefore tended to avoid such work unless they aspired to be military attachés. Smith consolidated training under a Director of Training and developed a career service program.

When Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Allied Commander Europe in 1951, he asked for Smith to serve as his chief of staff again. Truman turned down the request, stating that the DCI was a more important post. Eisenhower therefore took Lieutenant General Alfred Gruenther with him as his chief of staff. When Eisenhower subsequently recommended Gruenther's elevation to four-star rank, Truman decided that Smith should be promoted also. However, Smith's name was omitted from the promotion list. Truman then announced that no one would be promoted until Smith was; which occurred on 1 August 1951. Smith retired from the Army upon leaving the CIA on 9 February 1953.

Under Secretary of State

On 11 January 1953, Eisenhower, now president-elect, announced that Smith would become Under Secretary of State. Smith's appointment was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on 6 February and he resigned as DCI three days later. In May 1954, Smith traveled to Europe in an attempt to convince the British to participate in an intervention to avert French defeat in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. When this failed, he reached an agreement with the Soviet Foreign Minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, to partition Vietnam into two separate states. In 1953, the President of Guatemala, Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán, threatened to nationalize land belonging to the United Fruit Company. Smith ordered the American ambassador in Guatemala to put a CIA plan for a Guatemalan coup into effect, which was accomplished by the following year. Smith left the State Department on 1 October 1954 and took up a position with the United Fruit Company. He also served as President and Chairman of the Board of the Associated Missile Products Company and AMF Atomics Incorporated, Vice Chairman of American Machine and Foundry (AMF) and a director of RCA and Corning Incorporated.

After retiring as Under Secretary of State in 1954, Smith continued to serve the Eisenhower administration in various posts. He was a member of the National Security Training Commission from 1955-57; the National War College board of consultants from 1956-59; the Office of Defense Mobilization Special Stockpile Advisory Committee from 1957-58; the President's Citizen Advisors on the Mutual Security Program from 1956-57; and the President's Committee on Disarmament in 1958. Smith was a consultant at the Special Projects Office (Disarmament) in the Executive Office of the President from 1955-56. He also served as Chairman of the Advisory Council of the President's Committee on Fund Raising, and as a member-at-large from 1958-61. In recognition of his other former boss, he was a member of the George C. Marshall Foundation Advisory Committee from 1960-61.

Medals and Awards

Army Distinguished Service Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal
World War I Victory Medal with 3 Battle Clasps
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 7 Service Stars
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal with "Germany" Clasp
National Defense Service Medal

Foreign Medals and Awards

Grand Croix de 1'Ordre de la Couronne with Palm (Belgium)
Croix de guerre with Palm (Belgium)
Order of Military Merit, Grand Cross (Brazil)
Medal of Military Merit of the Army, First Class, Grand Cross (Chile)
Order of the White Lion, Star II Class (Czechoslovakia)
War Cross 1939-1945 (Czechoslovakia)
Legion of Honor, Grand Officer (France)
Croix de guerre 1914-1918 with Palm (France)
Croix de guerre 1939-1945 with Palm (France)
Order of the Bath, Knight Commander (United Kingdom)
Order of the British Empire, Knight Commander (United Kingdom)
Order of the Oak Crown, Grand Cross (Luxembourg)
Order of Ouissam Alaouite, Grand Cross (Morocco)
Order of the Netherlands Lion, Knight Grand Cross (Netherlands)
Order of Polonia Restituta, II Class (Poland)
Order of Virtuti Militari, Silver Cross (Poland)
Cross of Grunwald, Second Class (Poland)
Order of Nichan Iftikhar (Tunisia)
Order of Kutuzov, First Class (USSR)

U.S. Civil Service Medal

National Security Medal


In 1955, Smith was approached to perform the voice-over and opening scene for the movie To Hell And Back (1955), which was based on the autobiography of Audie Murphy. He accepted, and had small parts in the movie, most notably in the beginning, where he was dressed in his old service uniform. He narrated several parts of the movie, referring constantly to "the foot soldier."

Smith was portrayed on screen by Alexander Knox in The Longest Day (1962); Edward Binns in Patton (1970); and Timothy Bottoms in Ike: Countdown to D-Day.

On television he has been portrayed by John Guerrasio in Cambridge Spies (2003); Charles Napier in War and Remembrance (1989); Don Fellows in The Last Days of Patton (1986); and J.D. Cannon in Ike: The War Years (1979).

Death and Burial

Walter Bedell Smith suffered a heart attack on 9 August 1961 at his home in Washington, DC, and died in the ambulance on the way to Walter Reed Army Hospital. Although entitled to a Special Full Honor Funeral, at the request of his widow Mary Eleanor Smith, a simple joint service funeral was held, patterned after the one given to Marshall in 1959.

Mary selected a grave site for her husband in Section 7, Lot 8197-A, Grid V/W-24 of Arlington National Cemetery, close to Marshall's grave. She was buried next to him in 1963. His papers are in the Eisenhower Presidential Center in Abilene, KS.

Origin of Nickname/Handle:
His nickname was a variation of his middle name, Bedell.

Honoree ID: 331   Created by: MHOH




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