Colonel John L. Smith, U. S. Marine Corps (1914-1972), was a native of Lexington, Oklahoma. In May 1936 he was graduated from the University of Oklahoma where he was a member of the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps. He resigned his Army commission and accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps.
Following varied duty assignments, in 1937, he was ordered to flight school at Pensacola, Florida and upon graduation was designated a Naval Aviator. He later served in World War II and Korea. For his service he was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat V, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal with Combat V and four Air Medals.
For action in World War II he was awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and heroic achievement in aerial combat above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of Marine Fighter Squadron 223 during operations against Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands.
He repeatedly risked his life in aggressive attacks as he led his squadron against determined enemy forces greatly superior in numbers and personally shooting down 16 Japanese planes with the squadron destroying a total of 83 enemy aircraft.
His intrepid and inspiring leadership throughout the operations against enemy forces and his devotion to duty enhanced the finest tradition of the U. S. Naval Service.