Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Linda Robinson Wins Ford Journalism Prize on National Defense

Just learned that my friend, Linda Robinson, won the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense.
Those familiar with Linda's work will agree: She's a marvelous writer. I interviewed her while working on my book, American Airborne Forces, and I reviewed her book, Masters of Chaos, for MilitaryWeek.com. See here.
Press release follows:

Linda Robinson of U.S. News & World Report Wins Ford Journalism Prize on National Defense

Linda Robinson, a Senior Writer at U.S. News & World Report, won the eighteenth annual Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense. The $5,000 award recognizes journalists whose high standards for accuracy and substance help foster a better public understanding of national defense issues. Vice President Cheney, former President Ford's Chief of Staff, is scheduled to present the award at a National Press Club luncheon on June 13th.

Last year was an extraordinarily competitive year for excellence in national security journalism. Almost every entry submitted had at least one great story, and the writing covered topics as diverse as challenges facing the
U.S. military and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, changing techniques in the global war on terrorism, and --
closer to home -- base closure, personnel strength, and military transformation issues.

Linda Robinson's entry was noteworthy for its balanced reporting and analysis, written in a lucid, easy-to-understand and elegant style that made it a pleasure to read.

Ms. Robinson took the reader with her on the trail of Osama bin Laden in the mountains of Afghanistan, where soldiers build "Ranger's graves" against grenade attacks.

In Baghdad, she explained how minutes count in processing intelligence information in the hunt for the terrorist
Zarqawi and other insurgents.

In a report on U.S. Special Forces, Ms. Robinson illuminated for the public how Pentagon turf wars affect potential U.S. responses to new challenges in the global war on terrorism.

The judges for this year's contest were: Chair, Sharon Squassoni, Specialist in National Defense with the
Congressional Research Service; L. Edgar Prina, author, award winning journalist and former Bureau Chief of the Copley News Service; Robert Holzer, a former award winning journalist with Defense News now working with the Office of the Secretary of Defense; Erik Peterson, Senior Vice President of the Center for Strategic and International Studies; and Michael Champness, Associate Director of Air Defense Policy with the Office of Homeland Defense.

The Gerald R. Ford Foundation sponsors the National Defense Prize. The Foundation is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan corporation whose programs are supported entirely by contributions and bequests in an effort to honor President Ford's sustained commitment to public service.

For more information about the annual prize or previous winners contact:
Robert B. Gamble
Gerald R. Ford Foundation
303 Pearl Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504-5353



DEEP THROAT unmasked

Former FBI deputy director Mark Felt is Deep Throat!
See story here.
Deep Throat in retirement... relaxing at home with daughter and grandson

Now, the question on everyone's mind: Does Bob Woodward, or Mr. Felt, or anyone related have a DT-book in the works?
C'mon... What do y'all think? Can't you see the dollar signs there in Felt's kid's eyes?
This revelation is ALL about a new book!


Monday, May 30, 2005


Memorial Day

Been very busy here, so very little posting...
However, Maymester at USC is over, so I did spend portions of today (and yesterday) doing some non-work things: A dip in the pool, a hike along a southern stretch of the Congaree River, visits with a couple of old WWII veterans, drinks with a very lovely woman, spending time with the family, reading a little Tom Wolfe, shopping, planting flowers, eating barbeque, and watching "The Aviator."
Meanwhile, Jeff Quinton posted a copy of a pic he shot a few months ago of the World War II Memorial in D.C.
Here 'tis:

It is a fitting quotation for this day - actually every day - by Admiral Chester Nimitz.

Semper Fi,

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Open letter from Kay Day

First, my own comments:

As most of you know, I've been called lots of things publicly, both derogatory and complimentary: "Consummate warrior" has never been one of them. It's a flattering sobriquet to be sure, but even more so when uttered in an open letter to her readers by acclaimed author-poet Kay Day.

Kay's letter follows:

Some of you know about the poem I wrote in honor of W. Thomas Smith, Jr., a friend and colleague of mine. Thomas, in my opinion, has always been the consummate warrior.
Toss in my obsession with Beowulf, add to that my preoccupation with Southern culture, and it's no surprise that I composed a warrior poem (as opposed to a "war" poem).
At any rate, that poem has bounced around the world in a rather astounding way. Fifteen minutes after it was published at Thomas's site, the lit magazine Miller's Pond asked to publish it.
Within several hours, I received hundreds of emails and many posts at my blog about the poem.
Today I'm informed the poem has just been published at MilitaryWeek.
I looked at my stats and have had visitors from South Africa, Singapore, Australia, the United Kingdom, many U.S. states, and several news services.
Isn't it amazing how poetry, not very treasured in terms of acclaim or material gain, can touch the hearts of so many?
Best wishes to you and yours as we pay homage to those who died fighting for the wealth of freedoms we enjoy today.
Best regards,
Kay Day
Kay's website
Kay's weblog
Kay's poem at MilitaryWeek.com

Semper Fi,

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Inside Special Forces

PhDs with guns: See our review of Masters of Chaos at MilitaryWeek.com.
Our story also was picked up by NavySEALs.com.
Semper Fi,

Monday, May 23, 2005


We Marines and our flags

"When you're the finest, it's hard to be humble!"
--- USMC recruiting slogan

I was just at a flag and banner store here in Columbia, South Carolina, purchasing a new flagpole for my U.S. flag, which flies regularly from my front porch... particularly on special military anniversaries. (keep reading)
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
While at the store, I overheard a conversation between one of the company's vendors and two or three salesmen about military flags. I later asked the manager which military service flag was his biggest seller.
Of course, Columbia being a huge Army town (Fort Jackson, the U.S. Army's largest basic training facility, is located here; and a lot of Army retirees end up settling down here) I assumed the biggest seller would be Army flags.
By far, the biggest seller for service flags is the U.S. Marine Corps flag.
According to the manager, who never served in the military, Army guys are all proud to claim they "served in the Army" or were "in the service."
Marines, on the other hand, are all former Marines. It never leaves them, he said. Being a Marine is what defines all Marines: Active, reserve, retired, former, living, dead, even the ones who were kicked-out or given dishonorable discharges. Being a Marine is not just "service," it is a calling. And the title, Marine, is eternal and earned only after going through a difficult rite-of-passage. In fact, becoming a Marine is similar to would-be warriors becoming knights in the Middle Ages.
I then told the flag-store manager that I was a former Marine and he was correct on all fronts.
Now, this does not mean that soldiers, sailors, and airmen, are not incredibly proud of their service - all of which is noble - but it does mean that Marine culture and the "foreverness" of being a Marine is unlike anything else.
Oh, following is a picture of the best-selling military flag in Columbia, S.C. (and again, remember, Columbia is an Army town).
The image “http://www.trentstudios.com/Merchant2/graphics/00000003/marinesflag.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Semper Fidelis,

Saturday, May 21, 2005



USS AMERICA is now resting on the bottom of the Atlantic. See stories here and here. We commented on her death sentence back in March. See here.

Semper Fi,

Thursday, May 19, 2005


Neckwear for nuke talks

A tale of two ties

I don't know why, but this picture sort of interests me, because you can look at the two men and immediately determine which one is the envoy from North Korea (left) and which one is from South Korea (right), simply by their ties. Not their lapel pins - though that is obvious - but their ties.
Of course, either could have worn the tie the North Korean is wearing. But does anyone actually believe a North Korean diplomat would even own a tie as pretty as the one the South Korean guy is wearing?
Though I don't like the North Korean's tie as well as I do the South Korean's, I do think the North Korean is wearing a nice tie, and I do believe he tied his tie better than his counterpart from the South.
So, what might we deduce from all this other than the fact that I seriously need a work break? How about... the free world is more fashionable, but the Communists can tie a mean half-windsor.
Now I really must get back to work :-)

Oh, and here is the source and more information about the photo.


Guerilla Galleries

U.S. Marines during the fighting in Fallujah

In her piece at NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE, today, NRO writer Myrna Blyth makes the case that
"Newsweek reveres yesterday’s soldiers while endangering today’s." In doing so, Blyth makes a distinction between Newsweek, its recent immersion in hot water over its now-retracted report of a flushing of a copy of the Koran down a Gitmo toilet, the magazine’s current excerpt of David McCullough’s new biography of George Washington, and an incredible collection of photographs by photographer Lucian Read, who was embedded with U.S. Marines from Camp Pendleton to the mean streets of Fallujah.
The exhibit, entitled “Devil Dogs: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy,” is part of the World Picture Network’s Guerilla Galleries.
See exhibit here.
Read Myrna Blyths piece here.

Semper Fi,

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


U.S. News at USC

Many thanks to Gordon Witkin, national news editor at U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT, who today spoke to my national print class at The University of South Carolina's School of Journalism and Mass Communications. This is the second time I've invited Gordon to speak to my j-school students. Both times, he was fantastic, and all learned much!
Gordon is truly one of the finest editors I've ever worked for... and a good friend.


Sunday, May 15, 2005


The height of flattery!

I said yesterday that acclaimed poet Kay Day's BATTLE CRY was the height of flattery... and it is, but THIS ranks right up there with it.
Oh, and less than 24 hours after presenting me the poem, Kay's got an editor from a major national literary slick already making an offer to publish it. Stay tuned!
Gonna take a break, now, and go pummel the speed bag!


Saturday, May 14, 2005



The following poem was written for me (as a gift) by acclaimed poet Kay Day:

Battle Cry
for W. Thomas Smith, Jr.

He thought he heard it first in the oak trees,
within boughs he chose for lookouts,
sturdy perches where he spotted enemy
encroaching fields of peanuts or cotton:
fierce Hessians with scraggly beards and beefy arms,
earnest Yankees in blue,
Braves in feathers and paint,
his enemy shaped in tales he’d heard or read.

He heard it again in the water,
pulling him along the rivulets
where he dodged arrows and musket balls,
a call urging attack, defend.
The sound was the sweetest he’d known
since he was an infant drooling
as his mother crooned . And it stayed
with him through pine cone missiles
and ramshackle forts, battles alongside
barefoot friends, with and against those friends,
depending on sides determined by drawing straws.
He was a boy in the lap of a calling.

He heard the sounds again on the evening news,
an echo in the single word freedom,
and the melody rendered by Decatur’s maxim,
“My country, right or wrong.”
His song grew a march, and soon he knew
the grunt and sweat, real bullets slicing air
above his head. He accepted his mother
might one day greet a box on a tarmac,
flag enfolding him like a favorite blanket.

He thought he’d heard it first in Southern pine,
until he dealt war as a man. Then he knew.
He’d heard his first battle cry
resounding in the lullaby
he heard Mother sing
as he took shape in her womb.

--- Kay Day

This is the height of flattery. I don't know what to say other than I am humbled, honored, and grateful. To read more about Kay Day, please see here, here, and here.



Jeff Quinton's Friday the 13th

The Q-meister on MSNBC
Jeff Quinton has an excellent narrative wrap-up of his fascinating Friday the 13th.... how in a span of a just a few short hours he wound up as a talking head on national TV.
This is truly a great story, and one which I'll be sharing with my "breaking into national print" students at USC's School of Journalism on Monday. See story here.



Kay Day is writing me a poem!

According to her weblog (and a recent email message), Poet Kay Day is writing a poem for me.
Folks, an unsolicited offer and gift like this from someone as talented and accomplished as Kay is the absolute height of flattery.
I met Kay several years ago at a writers conference where we were both instructors. We've been friends ever since, though we rarely ever see each other (she lives in Florida... I'm in South Carolina).
Read more about her here.
And stay tuned for my poem :-)


Friday, May 13, 2005


Jeff Quinton on MSNBC'S Connected: Coast to Coast

Just learned that my buddy Jeff Quinton is tentatively slated for a 5:30 p.m. (EDT) appearance on MSNBC.
"Tentatively" is the operative word here... nevertheless, I want to get the word out.
Details will follow... Stay tuned!
UPDATE: Just got off the phone with Jeff. He says he'll be joining Ron Reagan and Monica Crowley on CONNECTED: COAST TO COAST to discuss the reaction to the military base closure list.
UPDATE 2: Jeff was superb! Sharp, quick-witted commentary.
He is truly a natural for any national television news program.



Double-Tongued Word Wrester

This is kinda fun :)

My friend, Ann Larosse, directed me to a fun word-site published and edited by Grant Barrett, an American lexicographer for Oxford University Press in New York. Anyway, it seems that a portion of our latest piece - David Hackworth: Unforgettable soldier in the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER - has been quoted as an example of usage for "perfumed prince" in the Double-Tongued Word Wrester.



comments from Michelle Malkin

Just learned that Michelle Malkin has referenced and linked us on her site regarding the unconfirmed BRAC list. See here.


Thursday, May 12, 2005


BRAC update

NavySEALs.com has released an unconfirmed BRAC (Base Realignment and Closing) list.
Jeff Quinton has posted it here.

UPDATE: Folks, I have received countless emails about the list being "wrong," "bogus," whatever... duuuh!
Not to sound condescending here, but we said - from the very beginning - it was UNconfirmed. What else? Some of you need to relax, maybe get back to work, or... perhaps, seek gainful employment?



"Much goings on"

As has been mentioned, so much has been going on over the past several days that we've simply not found time to post here...
A few quick comments now, then back out the door:
Kathryn Jean Lopez, my editor at NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE, was our guest speaker today in the class I teach on national print at The University of South Carolina's School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Kathryn fielded questions from my students via telephone speaker-phone from her office in New York. Not surprising, it was a wonderful session and my students learned much.
The previous day, we had my friend and ASJA colleague, Sandra Lamb, an author-journalist who wrote How to Write It: A Complete Guide to Everything You'll Ever Write. Sandy also has penned pieces for Family Circle, Woman's Day, Working Mother, Fitness, Parents, and Working Woman. The students learned much from her, too.
Thanks ladies, you were both fantastic.
Next week: Gordon Witkin from U.S. News & World Report and Woody Woodson from MilitaryWeek.com.
Stay tuned.

Oh, and a quick mention of just a few of the newspapers, nationwide, that have picked up my piece Fighting Kentuckians: The papers include, The Knoxville News-Sentinel, The Cincinnati Post, The [Wichita Falls, Texas] Times Record, The [Ashland, Kentucky] Daily Independent, and several others.



'David' the Lionhearted

Hackworth, Beyond the DropZone
Our latest column, Beyond the DropZone, at MilitaryWeek.com describes the person of the late Col. David H. Hackworth (U.S. Army, ret.).
Our story was also picked up by the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER.


Tuesday, May 10, 2005


'Marines killing bad guys' ... and other things

"U.S. Marines Push Toward Syrian Border"

Now THAT is a headline that'll grab anyone's attention. Can you imagine reading that prior to September 11, 2001? Anyway, see story here.

On a few other notes: Posting here at wthomassmithjr.com has been sporadic, lately: Apologies to all, but paying-deadlines and teaching a course in national print at the J-school are taking up much of my time, this month. More to come, however, so stay tuned!

Also: My buddy, Michael Graham, was a guest on Hannity & Colmes, last night. Congrats, MG, "you rabble rouser," you.

And finally: My buddy, Temple Ligon, has just published the following open invitation:


Jasper Johns of South Carolina – with a year at A. C. Moore on Rosewood and a few years near Batesburg–Leesville and three semesters in the USC art department – turns 75 this Sunday, May 15. As America's most important painter of the 20th Century, I say, Johns deserves some attention this Friday at 6 pm. We'll spend an hour on Johns' work, fully illustrated with color slides projected to the wall. Concurrently, starting at 6:30 pm in the art museum auditorium, the Design League is showing a film on Jane Jacobs, author of Death and Life of Great American Cities, published about 45 years ago. You're invited to attend my lecture on Johns, have some birthday cake and lots of champagne, but you can also see the film on Jane Jacobs in the CMA auditorium. Either way, we'll all meet up in the CMA's Boyd Plaza for the 9 pm al fresco showing of The Big Chill. It's a bit crowded, but Friday night looks pretty good.
Lecture on the work of Jasper Johns --
6-7 pm, Friday, May 13
#204 Senate Plaza
1520 Senate Street
John Temple Ligon
office: 771.0219
home: 988.0694


Sunday, May 08, 2005


Happy Mothers Day

Nice day with Mom, today - between deadlines - brunch with the family at the Fort Jackson officer's club... so Mom didn't have to cook.


Thursday, May 05, 2005


U.S. Marines hunting terrorists in Africa

U.S. Marines land in Somalia, on the hunt for al Queda operatives. Reuters is reporting it here.



Col. David Hackworth has died

Goodbye, Hack
My friend and fellow writer, George Sheldon, has just emailed me with some very sad news:
Col. David Hackworth (U.S. Army, ret.) - a best-selling author, a warrior in the purest sense, and a man I was fortunate enough to call my friend - has died.
It seems somehow appropriate that as I pen these words, I can hear the distant thud of mortar fire as young Army recruits train at nearby Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
Hack will be missed by veterans on both sides of the political fence.
See stories here and here.

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Despite his always incredibly busy schedule, Hack willingly - I might add happily - took the time to advise me on military specifics particularly as they related to the history of his famous unit, The Wolfhounds.
More to follow.

My buddy and fellow veteran Jeff Quinton also weighs-in on the character of Hack:
Meeting him at a book-signing, years ago, Jeff says...
"I was taken aback about how feeble he was compared to my expectations but he was still sharp as a tack mentally and still had the ability to generate a lot of noise when he thought something rotten was going on in the corridors of the Pentagon."
More comments from Jeff here.

Semper Fi,


Exclusive interview with Gen. Abe Turner

Preparing young Americans for battle

That's what Brigadier General Abraham Turner, the commanding general of Fort Jackson, S.C., discussed with me during our recent conversation. We also chatted about the U.S. Army's new basic training program, the war in Iraq, the issue of women in ground combat, and the changing face of modern war.
See it here in Beyond the DropZone at MilitaryWeek.com.

Semper Fi,

Monday, May 02, 2005


On the Wire...

Our latest MilitaryWeek.com piece, Fighting Kentuckians, was picked up by the SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE. See it here.


Sunday, May 01, 2005


An extremely dangerous COLD WAR holdover

North Korea test-fired a short-range missile that landed harmlessly in the Sea of Japan, today.
Those of us who follow North Korea and that country's whack-job of a premier, Kim Jong Il, know that this is not a new or an unusual development. What is unsettling is that the launching comes on the heels of recent reports that North Korea might test-detonate a nuclear weapon in the very near future. And on Thursday, U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told a Senate committee that North Korea may now have the capability of arming and firing a nuclear-tipped missile. Worse, the Communist state may have the capability of launching a missile that could reach the West Coast of the United States. Not to mention the oft'-considered War-on-Terror question: Who might Kim Jong Il decide to sell a nuke to (That bird needs the money. His country is starving, though he's certainly not missing any meals.)?
Interestingly, today's missile test-firing - a dangerous Cold War holdover that now has a direct connection to the War on Terror - comes exactly 45 years to-the-day after one of the Cold War's most dramatic events - the Soviets' downing of one of our U-2 spy planes and the capture of its pilot, Francis Gary Powers.


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