Boyd Wayne Smith
His tour began April 7, 1970
B Company, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division
Service Occupation: Infantry Unit Commander
Died at the age of 22 on May 5, 1970 in Cambodia
Cause of Death: Hostile, Ground Casualty, Explosive Device
Buried at Lynnhurst Cemetery, Knox County, Tennessee.
B Company, 2/47th Infantry, lost six men, one of whom was Boyd W. Smith, on 05 May 1970 when their personnel carrier struck a mine north of Katum, SVN. (Katum is located approximately eight kilometers south of the Cambodian border in the South Vietnam province of Tay Ninh)
“Wayne – I never knew his first name was Boyd until he died – was my OCS classmate and later roommate when we were both somehow assigned to Fort Sill instead of helicopter training as we thought we were to be. He was the typical Southern boy and I the kid from Maine – an unusual encounter made possible by military service. His burst-through-the-door presence, his laugh, his ‘You have to be sh-tting me’ attitude, made everyone around shake their head and chuckle. He came from a great family who shared their home and heart with me when I visited before we both left for RVN – the last time I saw Wayne. He was lost in Cambodia, a mission we never had. I can’t hear of Knoxville or see a Tennessee sports team on TV that I do not think of him and his family. Know that we remember Wayne and we are thankful for the good times and the friendship you provided in the brief time we knew you. God bless Mr. and Mrs. Smith who suffered the greatest loss possible. ” -Bob Hodges
“My mother spoke today (07/13/02) to Essie Smith the still heart broken Mother of Boyd Wayne Smith. Ms. Smith and my mother go to church together at Norwood Baptist Church in Knoxville, and mom called to tell her that she would be visiting the Vietnam Memorial an she wanted to look up Boyd’s name and how would she find it. Ms. Smith of course shed tears once again for her her deceased son of 32 yrs. I will ask God tonight in my prayers to bless this women whose son gave his life fighting our country and Thank God who gave his son for Ms. Smith and Boyd so they may be together again in Heaven. God Bless you and keep you Ms. Smith until you see BOYD WAYNE SMITH again.” -Deborah A. Newcomb
“Smitty and I served together at Ft. Sill. I went to his going away party. I remember the shock and despair amongst the LT’s when we found out he died so soon. Such an untimely end to a fine man!” -Gene Henry
“As youngsters Wayne and I shared many a great day at Inskip Pool where he was a lifeguard. He was always a great friend to me even though he went to Central high and I went to Halls. Our high schools were rivals but we shared a great friendship. I was drafted in 65 and was in Vietnam 66-67. Wounded in August of 67. Even though I lost several friends in Vietnam, Wayne is the only person I had a personal relationship with from Knoxville. I think of him often and wish he hadn’t been taken so early in his life.” -David McCloud
Graduate of Central High School in Knoxville, Tennessee.
A war hero’s cuff links offer us a reminder why civility matters
Gregory D. Smith, 3rd February 2019, The News Sentinel
I attended the Tennessee Governor’s Inaugural Ball on January 19. I was invited because I am president of the Tennessee Municipal Judges Conference, not because of personally knowing Governor Bill Lee or my political party preference.
My wife laughingly joked about being Cinderella. I felt more like the Clampetts’, upon their arrival in Beverly Hills, than Cinderella arriving at the ball.
I knew my wife would guide me through the evening and hide my stumbles, but I longed to justify my invitation for reasons beyond merely being a name on a political intern’s to-do list. I decided ”the clothes make the man”… or so I hoped. I had the tuxedo shirt. I can tie a bow tie. The shoes were shined. But I lacked cuff links. Cuff links? What cuff links? We don’t need no stinkin’ cuff links! Then I remembered my older brother, Wayne, had cuff links. Wayne’s cuff links. My brother Wayne had five or six sets of cuff links that haven’t seen the light of day for 50 years. Wayne died in Cambodia on May 5, 1970 as a collateral result of the Kent State tragedy, where American troops fired on American citizens, on U.S. soil, for the first time since the Civil War.
Due to political pressure, President Richard Nixon pulled air coverage from an Army convoy my first Lieutenant brother was leading because the war in Vietnam did not include Cambodia. College students were protesting the entering of neutral Cambodia by American troops.
Our family did not have wealth. Why would 22 year-old Wayne have cuff links?
Fifteen years, and three other siblings, separated Wayne’s birth from mine. Wayne was born in 1948, at the beginning of the baby boom. I was born in 1963, at the end of the baby boom. Wayne was drafted in 1969 and took his basic training here at Fort Campbell.
My first contact with Clarksville was when my family traveled from Knoxville to see Wayne graduate from basic training. Exactly 50 years have passed since Wayne last wore cuff links. After asking permission of my brother and sisters, I decided to take my brother Wayne to Gov. Lee’s dance by wearing them. Looking at the cuff links, I wondered how Wayne’s 1969 Clarksville differs from mine?
Wayne was drafted while attending college at the University of Tennessee in 1969 to “make the world safe for democracy.” Today, politicos in Washington are busy trying to undercut and discredit each other. Many Americans, feeling the pinch of the recent U.S. government’s shutdown, believe we need to be made safe from democracy.
This current unrest and bickering stem from how political campaigns have devolved into character attacks.
Wayne’s Clarksville was still in shock from the 1968 murders of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy.
My Clarksville celebrates the federal holiday of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but we often overlook Dr. King’s message of peace and unity, instead focusing on the shortcoming of political candidates’ personal lives. When dirt cannot be found, it is often manufactured. Unfortunately, outstanding citizens elect to forego running for office simple to avoid the media mugging that they and their family must endure to serve. Did Wayne receive the Bronze, Silver and Gold Star only to have them tarnished by political campaign attack ads? No.
The 2018 Tennessee Governor’s Race, as well as the 2018 Clarksville Mayor’s Race, offered candidate choices that were qualified, dignified and respectful.
Gov. Bill Lee, and former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts and former Mayor Kim McMillan refused to attack personalities for gains at the ballot box. The campaign tactics are appreciated. Attack ads are effective, but are they helpful?
Governor Lee, thank you for the invitation to the ball. More important, thank you for proving that one can seek office with class and dignity. Wayne would appreciate how you danced in 2018. Lee’s campaign slogan was “Believe in Tennessee.” I believe.
Future candidates beware. The public now knows how candidates can win elections without character assassination.
- Rank: First Lieutenant
- Date of birth: 14 December 1947
- Date of death: 5 May 1970
- County: Knox
- Hometown: Knoxville
- Service Branch: Army
- Division/Assignment: 47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division
- Conflict: Vietnam
- Awards: Purple Heart, Silver Star, Gold Star
- Burial/Memorial Location: Lynnhurst Cemetery, Knoxville, TN
- Location In Memorial: Pillar XXIII, Middle Panel
- Sponsored by: Jacob Coleman