MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marines, friends and family all stood by watching as a Marine who has given many years to the Corps retired and began a new journey, leaving behind a legacy in those whom he led.
Sgt. Maj. Clyde S. Smith, Headquarters Battalion sergeant major, spent 26 faithful years in the Marine Corps teaching and leading Marines; the last year in Iraq, from February 2005 to 2006, was no exception.
Smith turned over his duties to 1st Sgt. Martin Bock in a post and relief ceremony here, June 1.
“It takes a special type of person to be able to hold together all that Sgt. Maj. Smith did,” explained Col. David K. Hough, Headquarters Battalion’s commanding officer, referring to the widely dispersed battalion Smith managed while deployed in the Al Anbar province, Iraq.
The ceremony began with the traditional passing of the noncommissioned officer sword from the outgoing Smith to the incoming Bock.
Smith was then awarded a Legion of Merit for his outstanding service and unrelenting dedication to duty and the Corps. While many of the Marines whom he served with over the past 26 years watched, Smith was given an American flag, a final farewell and thank you from the United States Marine Corps.
“I always tell my Marines that it all started back in 1979 when I think my parents were ready to kick me out of the house because I was finishing up high school and working on a sod farm,” Smith explained. “So I went to my dad and he told me I should join the Air Force. I ended up on the bench waiting for the Air Force recruiters and saw the Marines across the hall in their dress blue uniforms. I went home signed up with the Marines.”
Smith’s wife, Master Sgt. Lois Smith, also retired from the Corps, was presented with a certificate of appreciation for the support she has given to her family and husband throughout their time together in the Corps.
Now having taken over the duties as sergeant major of the battalion, Bock will pick up where Smith left off, preparing the Marines for another tour of duty in Iraq fighting in the Global War on Terrorism.
“The best thing about this career is all the wonderful people around you, and many of you are here today, so thank you all again for being here,” Smith said.