Service Branch: United States Coast Guard
Rank at Separation: Master Chief Petty Officer
Combat Action: Korea [era] and Vietnam
Home Town: Palisade
Military Specialty: Machinery Technician
Units: USCGC Evergreen, USCGC Laurel, USCGC Ojibwa, USCGC Corwin, USCGC Gresham, USCGC Rush, USCGC Raritan
Decorations, Citations, and Awards: - Coxswain Insignia, Silver USCG Cutterman Insignia, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign w/ Device, USCG Good Conduct x 5, RVN Meritorious Unit [CA1C w/ Palm], Navy Commendation w/ Combat Device, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation
Master Chief Machinery Technician Billy C. Smith is a genuine measure of United States Coast Guard history. The list of his duty assignments and his accomplishments, along with his family’s never-ending support, literally define the word “service.” Although MKCM Smith enlisted in the Coast Guard during the Korean War, it would be 18 years before he would deploy to a combat zone. Still, he saw plenty of hazardous duty. From Ice Berg Patrol in the North Atlantic aboard the USCGC Evergreen to River Search and Rescue above Niagara Falls to Ice Breaking on the Great Lakes aboard the USCGC Ojibwa, Billy Smith was Semper Paratus.
Senior Chief Smith served aboard the USCGC Rush while it was on patrol in the South China Sea off the coast of Viet Nam’s Mekong Delta in 1970 - 71. In addition to his regular Engine Room duties on the Rush, he would occasionally pull augmentee duty on one of the Coast Guard PBRs (Patrol Boat, River) cruising the Mekong River. On the night of November 22nd, 1970, the Rush was part of a U.S. Naval force tasked with capturing a North Vietnamese supply trawler delivering weapons.
Trapped and unable to flee, the trawler tried to attack the U.S. Navy Minesweeper Endurance, at which time the Rush assisted along with three other U.S. warships in the eventual sinking of the trawler. On April 11th, 1971, the Rush saw additional combat in Viet Nam. A North Vietnamese trawler was attempting infiltration into the South when it was engaged by the Rush and two other U.S. warships and sank after a devastating explosion.
In all, Billy Smith served his Country for 22½ years, attaining the highest Non-Commissioned Officer rank of Master Chief Petty Officer. He was stationed at five USCG Bases and served on seven vessels patrolling coastal and inland waters from Iceland to the Cà Mau Peninsula. In his final Fitness Report, Billy’s Commanding Officer commented:
“I can truly say that I have never served with a more dedicated Master Chief Petty Officer in my twenty-four years of Coast Guard service. I could not properly give credit to all of this man’s fine qualities, herein, nor will I attempt to. MKCM Smith has demonstrated outstanding professionalism, leadership, and dedication to duty in all aspects of his assignment as Engineering Petty Officer aboard [the USCGC Raritan]. This dedicated Master Chief Petty Officer is a credit to any Command.”
After retiring from the Coast Guard, Billy and his wife, Beth, returned to Palisade where he repaired auto engines until age 75. He is still active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars at the local, State, and National levels. Beth and Billy enjoy their family of 7 children, 25 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.
Wow! Imagine the restaurant reservation – “Yes. Smith…party of 79…ah, you DO take American Express, don’t you?”