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Honoring Our Heroes

Col john William Schmidt: age 76

Col John William Schmidt served 26 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. His Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) included: (1) Infantry Officer for 24 years and seven months, (2) Ground Officer, Colonel, three years one month and (3) Public Affairs Office, 11 years two months. Col Schmidt participated in Operations Against Viet Cong Forces in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) and in Operation Desert Shield/Storm. This valiant Marine received the following medals, badges, citations and campaign ribbons: Legion of Merit with one Gold Star, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation, Navy Commendation with Combat “V”, Navy Achievement Medal with one Gold Star, Combat Acton Ribbon, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Commendation with one Star, National Defense Service Medal with one Star, Vietnam Service Medal with two Stars, Southwest Asia Service Medal with three Stars, Humanitarian Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with three Stars, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal and Kuwait Liberation Medal.

Col Schmidt was born June 26, 1947 to his parents, Harold and Margaret Schmidt, at Menasha, WI. His father served in the U.S. Army during WWII. His family moved to Birmingham, AL, where he was reared and where he graduated from John Carroll High School in 1965. He graduated from Alabama College which is now the University of Montevallo in 1969 with a BA Degree in Political Science.

Having participated in the Platoon Leadership program in college, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps as a 2nd Lt. June 3, 1969. He completed six months of training at the Marine Basic School at the Marine Base Quantico, VA. His first MOS was Infantry Officer, and his first assignment was deployment to Camp Hansan, Okinawa, Japan, with the 3rd Marine Division in June 1971 for five months followed by service for five months at Vietnam with the 1st Marine Division where he served in combat. Next, he served at Camp Pendleton, CA, still with the 1st Marine Division from June 1971 to September 1972. He earned a Master’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin in 1973. Then he served at the Marine Headquarters at Washington, D.C. in Public Affairs 1973-1977. While in this capacity, Col chmidt helped to implement the Freedom of Information Act for the Defense Department. In May 1977, he returned to Birmingham, AL, and served with the Marine Reserve with the 4th Battalion Marines while working at the University of AL at

Birmingham, Al, for one year.

Col Schmidt returned to Active duty serving as the Infantry Officer with the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton 1978-1979. He then served as the Public Affairs Officer at Camp LeJeune 1979-1987. While there, he served as the primary spokesman for the Vietnam War POW PFC Robert Garwood who stood trial for AWOL desertion at Vietnam. This was the first televised court-martial for the U.S. military. He returned for a second deployment to Okinawa. Then he served for two years at the Marine Aircraft Group-26 at New River, N.C. Completing his tour at New River, he was assigned commanding officer of a logistics unit with the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit. He next deployed for sea duty in the Mediterranean Sea 1987-1989 serving aboard the USS Shreveport (LPD-12), an Austin-class amphibious transport dock and the USS Nassau, (LHA-4) a Tarawa-class amphibious assault ship. In 1989, he

completed the program at the U.S. Air Force War College at Maxwell AFB, AL. In 1989-1990, he served with the US Central Command (CentCom) at Tampa, FL. He was deployed to Saudia Arabia in 1990 after the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. He served as the Operations Officer there during Desert Shield and Desert Storm where he planned defense and offense operations until April 1991. He served in Kuwait August 1990-June 1992.

Col Schmidt then served at Camp LeJeune, and he was involved with the Marines’ assistance to people affected by Hurricane Andrew in Florida. Next, in February, 1993, he commanded the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Force on the aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt, for six months off the coast of Saudia Arabia. One of the missions was to rescue downed pilots. He commanded another Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force aboard the USS Nassau off the coast of Haiti in August 1993-December 1993. Col Schmidt retired from all military service October 31,1994.

After military retirement, Col Schmidt received an EdD Degree in Higher Education from Nova University. He worked for 20 years during 1994-2014 with Troy University. He served in leadership positions as the Executive Assistant to the Chancellor, Vice President for Advancement with fund raising, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Senior Vice President for Student Affairs. While there, he created a Student Service Center to inspire retention. From 2018-2021, he worked as Senior Vice Chancellor for Student Services Administration.

Col Schmidt and his wife, Vickie, have been married 52 years, and they have three sons and five grandchildren. He is a life-time member of the Marine Corps League and a member of Holy Spirit Catholic Church and the Board of Trustees of the American Village. He has served as President of the Troy Rotary Club. For recreation, he enjoys exercise, reading and fishing.

Col Schmidt’s conclusions about what serving in the Marines means to him are: “Give back to this great nation. What this great nation gave to me was love of country and family.” He would like people to remember him as a man who loved the Marine Corps.


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