Should parents of US KIA's pay Federal income taxes?

It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.
George Washington

Don't let schooling interfere with your education.
Mark Twain

Total Pageviews

Sunday, September 25, 2011

E-Tool Smith

I grew up as the oldest son of Marine legend "E-Tool" Smith.  For most of my life, I was aware of the fact that he was a mythical Marine, a fierce warrior, and a respected leader of men, but mostly he was just dad.  I was always in awe of his ability to smell squirrels, I thought he was the best athlete I would ever meet, and I was particularly impressed when he shot a coyote at a range that seemed like a mile to me as a ten year old boy.  But after I joined the Marine Corps, I got an introduction to who E-Tool Smith really was.


When I got off the bus at Parris Island, SC in the early morning hours of Oct 24th, 1989, I ran out and found a set of yellow footprints to fill that were conveniently located smack in the middle of the seventy or so stupid young men who rode in with me.  Having grown up in the Marine Corps, I was not particularly awed by the tirade of "Get off my bus," and other fine introductory phrases used by the receiving DI's, until one of them said, "Which one of you sorry pieces of shit is Smith?"  I knew instantly which Smith he was looking for, but I assumed that one of the other young men was a Smith, so I wisely kept my mouth shut.  So did all the other young men.  As the DI repeated himself, I thought, "Great.  I've been here thirty seconds and I'm already on the shit list."  Having not answered up the first time, I didn't want to answer at the second request.  As the third attempt at locating the sorry piece of shit was leaving the DI's mouth, I answered up.  From that point on, recruit training was pure hell on me.

After three months at Parris Island, graduation drew near.  My father, and his Regimental Sergeant Major were scheduled to be the reviewing officer for my graduation parade (a pure coincidence, but schedules probably would have been altered if necessary).  A tradition in Marine boot camp is the night before graduation, your DI's meet with your parents at the E-Club.  Before we were given base liberty to visit with our families the afternoon before graduation, I was told to tell my father that the uniform of the day for the E-Club meeting was Charlies.  They wanted to be sure they could identify him in the crowd.  Dad obliged them and wore his Charlies.

After the E-Club meet and greet, the DI's, usually half to three quarters lit, would return to the squad bay, and treat the recruits like Marines for the first time.  After bullshitting with us for about an hour, they told us to hit the rack.  My Senior DI called me over and quietly said, "Your dad is a helluva Marine.  If you ever want to fill his shoes, you should start killing people tomorrow."  I was slightly stunned.

After graduation, I went to Camp Geiger to become a Marine rifleman, the only job in the Corps that I ever wanted.  Every Marine I met at Geiger was totally awed by E-Tool Smith.  Most had served under him in the Eighth Marines, others had served with him at other times, and some of the junior officers had heard all about him at Quantico when they were learning to be "leaders of men."  I was told almost daily that I better be a good Marine, cause if I embarrassed E-Tool Smith in any way, I would certainly have my ass kicked repeatedly.  I hope that I have done him proud.

I found this little tidbit while researching E-Tool Smith.

One Marine illustrates this point particularly well. Major General Ray “E-Tool” Smith, USMC (retired) is a decorated combat veteran. Smith earned his unusual nickname in Vietnam: an “e-tool” is a small, foldable shovel, or “entrenching tool.” At one point, joined in close combat with enemy forces, when his firearm was no longer up to the task, he resorted to his e-tool as a weapon to dispatch an enemy soldier. To paraphrase MGen Smith, “Unlike a rifle, a shovel doesn’t jam.” Physically, Smith was Winchester. Mentally, he was not.
If you have decided that the fight cannot be won, it cannot. But Smith, whose courage in the face of likely far worse odds than you or I will ever face, found a way to keep fighting. Perhaps you are done and have no fight left.
Or perhaps there is an e-tool nearby that will do just fine.

I sent this quote to my father, with the note that I have always thought he was fucking awesome.  I think this may be the best praise I have ever heard for him.  And I think I will definitely keep my e-tool handy, cause I am getting to the end of my rope with this economy, and I may have to follow my Senior DI's advice, even though I'll be starting a little late.

Photo: Finally finished


  1. Great post, and yes your dad is one bad ass dude for sure. The Wikipedia page on him is most impressive.

    As for the latter action... relief is just over the horizon. Of that I am sure.

    Side note: just last week I ordered the "Boys of '68". Should be a good read about your dad.

  2. Great post. Thanks to both of you for your service. When I think of men like your father and all they have done for this country then look at the moronic politicians in DC, it sickens me. Men that are doing so much to protect and defend this county and men who are doing so much to destroy it, it makes my blood boil.

  3. Tenth,

    Your Dad inspired my entire generation and continues to do so. I was one of the many young lieutenants who cycled through The Basic School while your father was there as a bigger-than-life instructor. We all benefited from getting the straight scoop from real battle tested American heroes.

    It makes me laugh that for the most part we were all arriving straight from four years listening to a bunch of Liberal (yes Socialist, Progressive, Democrat, whatever) college sissies filling our head with mush. Talk about a contrast!

  4. The lessons I'd learned from my Drill Sergeants and, some good officers still influence me today.

  5. Pretty cool stuff TJ. One cool thing I got to do with my stepdad was he was the first enlisted soldier to salute me. That was super cool for both of us.

  6. Fine tribute TGP. It's funny that I came across this blog, because apparently my wife is a 2nd cousin of yours and I have a non-corps story for you that I know you haven't heard. Probably about 6 or seven years ago your parents were up here in MA visiting your mom's cousins (my wifes father and his sister). My wife's aunt invited us and the kids to her house for a dinner that your folks also attended . Your mom's cousin May always had a dog, and as it so happened she had just gotten a new one to replace the one that had recently died. When we arrived at May's house and went inside I see that this time, (probably unbeknownst to her) she had adopted a pit-bull. So here I am in a fairly crowded living room with a nervous pit-bull and 3 young children that want to pet the doggie. As I was sizing up my egress options, the dog started growling which immediately raised the pucker factor. Let me tell you, no sooner had that dog started growling when your dad let out with a "SIT!" and it sat. Hell I nearly sat, but your dad gave me the time I needed to evac my kids to the safety of the yard. And for the rest of the time I was inside I don't think that dog was ever more than a few feet from your dad. My father in law is former corps, and prior to my meeting your folks at his house the day earlier, he told me the story of "E-Tool." After meeting him I never doubted a word of it. My eldest son still remembers "The General".