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First Name: Holland

Last Name: Smith

Birthplace: Hatchechubbie, AL, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: McTyeire

Date of Birth: 20 April 1882

Date of Death: 12 January 1967

Rank: General

Years Served: 1905-1946
Holland McTyeire Smith
'Howlin' Mad'

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


Holland McTyeire "Howlin' Mad" Smith
General, U.S. Marine Corps
(Tombstone General)

Holland McTyeire Smith was born on 20 April 1882 in Hatchechubbie, AL, to John Wesley and Cornelia Caroline McTyeire Smith. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Auburn University (then known as Alabama Polytechnic Institute) in 1901. He had already decided on a military career and had become First Sergeant of a Cavalry Company in the Alabama National Guard. However, he obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Alabama in 1903 and practiced law in Montgomery, AL, for a year. He then sought a commission in the U.S. Army, but instead was appointed a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps on 20 March 1905.

Marine Corps Career

In April 1906, after completing the School of Application at Annapolis, MD, Smith sailed for the Philippines, where he served on expeditionary duty with the 1st Marine Brigade until September 1908. He returned to the U.S. the following month and was stationed at the Marine Barracks, Annapolis, until December 1909, when he embarked for expeditionary duty in Panama. Returning from Panama in April 1910, he served at Annapolis; Puget Sound, WA; San Diego, CA; and the Recruiting Station, Seattle, WA, before sailing in September 1912 to rejoin the 1st Marine Brigade in the Philippines.

He remained with the 1st Brigade until April 1914, when he took Command of the Marine Detachment aboard USS Galveston (CL-19). He served in that capacity in Asiatic waters until July 1915. He returned to the U.S. the following month for duty at the Navy Yard, New Orleans, LA. From there, he was ordered to the Dominican Republic in June 1916 as a member of the 4th Marine Regiment. During that Unit's operations against rebel bandits, he saw action in the march to Santiago and engagements at La Pena and Kilometer 29. Returning to the U.S. on 30 May 1917, he sailed for France and World War I just two weeks later as Commander of the 8th Machine Gun Company, 5th Marines.

His nickname, "Howlin' Mad" Smith, was given to him by his troops in the Philippines.

World War I

In France, Smith was detached from the 5th Marines and sent to the Army General Staff College at Langres, from which he graduated in February 1918. He was the first of only six Marines ever to complete this course. He was then named Adjutant of the 4th Marine Brigade, which was a part of the US Army's 2nd Infantry Division , serving in a relatively quiet sector southeast of Verdun. During the fighting in and around Belleau Wood, he played "a vital though undramatic" role as Brigade Liaison Officer, overseeing internal communications within the Brigade. Transferred to the I Corps, First Army, in July 1918, he served as Assistant Operations Officer in Charge of Liaison during the Aisne-Marne, Oisne-Aisne, St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives. After the Armistice he participated in the March to the Rhine through Belgium and Luxembourg as an Assistant Operations Officer with the Third Army, and served with the General Staff, U.S. Army, during the occupation of Germany.

Post-World War I

Returning to the U.S. in April 1919, Smith's assignments in the next four years included duty at Norfolk, VA; study at the Naval War College, Newport, RI; and service in Washington, DC, with the War Plans Section of the Office of Naval Operations. There, he was the first Marine officer to serve on the Joint Army-Navy Planning Committee. Leaving Washington in May 1923, he served aboard the battleships Wyoming and Arkansas as Fleet Marine Officer, U.S. Scouting Fleet, until September of that year.

In February 1924, after serving at Marine Corps Headquarters and in the West Indies in connection with joint Army-Navy maneuvers, Smith joined the Marine Brigade on expeditionary duty in Haiti, serving as that Unit's Chief of Staff and Officer in Charge of Operations and Training. He returned from that country in August 1925 to serve as Chief of Staff of the 1st Marine Brigade at Quantico, VA, until September 1926; as a student in the Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, from then until June 1927; and as Post Quartermaster of the Marine Barracks, Philadelphia Navy Yard, from July 1927 to March 1931.

In April 1931, Smith began another tour of sea duty, this time aboard the USS California (BB-44) as Aide to the Commander and Force Marine Officer of the Battle Force, U.S. Fleet. He served in those capacities until June 1933 Commanded the Marine Barracks at the Washington Navy Yard from then until January 1935; and served the following two years at San Francisco, CA, as Chief of Staff, Department of the Pacific. From there he was ordered to Marine Corps Headquarters in March 1937, to serve two years as Director of the Division of Operations and Training, after which he was Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps under Major General Thomas Holcomb from April to September 1939.

World War II

After the latter assignment, Smith assumed Command of the 1st Marine Brigade at Quantico, taking that unit to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for extended amphibious training in October 1940. In February 1941, when the Brigade was redesignated the U.S. 1st Marine Division, he became that organization's first Commander. He returned with the Division to Quantico in April 1941, and in June of that year he was detached to take command of the organization that eventually became the Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet. Under this command, the 1st Marine Division and the 1st and 9th Army Divisions received their initial training in amphibious warfare.

Moving to San Diego in August 1942, Smith took command of the Amphibious Corps, Pacific Fleet, under which he completed the amphibious indoctrination of the 2d and 3d Marine Divisions before they went overseas, and the 7th Army Division and other units involved in the Aleutians operation. The Amphibious Corps, Pacific Fleet, was later redesignated the V Amphibious Corps, and in September 1943, as Commander of that unit, Smith arrived at Pearl Harbor to begin planning for the Gilberts campaign. He continued to head the V Amphibious Corps until August 1944, when he was named Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific , at Pearl Harbor. He is sometimes called the "father" of modern U.S. amphibious warfare.

Subsequently, he commanded the Fleet Marine Force. In addition to that post, he commanded Task Force 56 in the Battle of Iwo Jima before returning to the U.S. in July 1945, to head the Marine Training and Replacement Command at Camp Pendleton, CA.

A Lieutenant General when he retired on 15 May 1946, he was promoted to 4-star General on the retired list for having been especially commended in combat. He thus became the Marine Corps' second "Tombstone General."

* The Act of Congress of 4 March 1925, allowed officers in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard to be promoted one grade upon retirement if they had been specially commended for performance of duty in actual combat. Combat citation promotions were colloquially known as "tombstone promotions" because they conferred the prestige of the higher rank, but not the additional retirement pay, so their only practical benefit was to allow recipients to engrave a loftier title on their business cards and tombstones. The Act of Congress of 23 February 1942, enabled tombstone promotions to three- and four-star grades. Tombstone promotions were subsequently restricted to citations issued before 1 January 1947, and finally eliminated altogether effective 1 November 1959.

Any general who actually served in a grade while on active duty receives precedence on the retirement list over any tombstone general holding the same retired grade. Tombstone generals rank among each other according to the dates of their highest active duty grade.

Medals and Awards

Navy Distinguished Service Medal w/ 4 Award Stars
Purple Heart
Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal w/ 3 Service Stars
Dominican Campaign Medal
Mexican Service Medal
World War I Victory Medal w/ 5 Sector Clasps
Army of Occupation of Germany Medal
American Defense Service Medal w/ Base Clasp
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 5 Service Stars
World War II Victory Medal
Dominican Order of the First Merit
Croix de guerre (WWI) w/ Palm
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath


• Smith was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Alabama Polytechnic Institute.

• Camp H. M. Smith, located on Oahu, Hawaii, is a Marine Corps base named after General Smith. It is home to the Pacific Command, Marine Forces Pacific and other commands.

• There are two Marine Corps League Detachments in General Smith's name:

• Detachment #93 - Howlin Mad - Hobart, Indiana

• Detachment #592 - Howlin' Mad Smith - Birmingham, Alabama


In the film, Flags of Our Fathers, General Smith is portrayed by actor Gordon Clapp.

In Retirement

General Smith took up residence in La Jolla, CA, where he pursued his hobby, gardening.

Death and Burial

Following a long illness, General Holland McTyeire Smith died on 12 January 1967 at the U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego, CA, at age 84. Funeral services were held on 14 January at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Chapel, and the General was interred with full military honors.

He is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, CA, in Section OS, Lot 279A.

At the time of his death, General Smith was survived by a son, Rear Admiral John V. Smith. General Smith's wife, the former Ada B. Wilkinson, had died in 1962.

Origin of Nickname/Handle:
His nickname, "Howlin' Mad" Smith, was given to him by his troops in the Philippines.

Honoree ID: 423   Created by: MHOH




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