Saturday, 21 February, 2004
Dinner with the General
I flew to Harlingen, Texas yesterday for the H.M. Smith Memorial Dinner at the Marine Military Academy. The H.M. Smith Foundation was created as a means of expressing the official gratitude of the Academy for extraordinary support given toward its growth and development. H.M. Smith Fellows are those who have donated $100,000.00 or more to the school. No, I'm not one of them. I go to the dinner to honor those who are and also to visit with old friends. General Holland McTyeire ("Howling Mad") Smith was one of the most famous of the United States commanders in the Pacific during World War II, and a great benefactor of the Marine Military Academy.
The Guest of Honor at last night's dinner was Lt. General James T. Conway, Commanding General of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Yes, the Marines that took Baghdad. He gave quite a moving speech during the dinner last night, and had some great stories to tell during the reception later that evening. He also served as reviewing officer for the parade this morning, honoring the H.M. Smith Fellows and all veterans of the Iwo Jima battle. I was surprised to see how many Iwo Jima veterans (remember, that was 59 years ago) visit the Lower Rio Grande Valley in the winter. There must have been 40 or 50 of them at the parade.