U.S. Army JAG School Oral History Interview Conducted With Colonel Elizabeth R. Smith, Jr. (USA Ret.)

Author:Burgan, Linda S.

Biographical Sketch

Colonel Smith was born in Ravenna, Kentucky on December 27, 1926 and grew up in Irvine, Kentucky. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky in 1950. Colonel Smith was admitted to the Kentucky State Bar after her graduation and she practiced law in Irvine, Kentucky, for a short period of time until she entered the Women's Army Corps in 1951.

Colonel Smith entered the Army as a second lieutenant and attended Officers Training School at Fort Lee, Virginia from 1951 through 1952. Upon her graduation from Officers Training School, Colonel Smith served as executive officer and commanding officer, WAC Detachment, Fort Eustis, Virginia from 1952 until 1954.

Colonel Smith's initial assignment to do legal work was as a legal assistance officer in the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Northern Area Command, Frankfurt, Germany, from 1954 until 1957. She then attended the General's School in 1957. Colonel Smith was one of the first two women to attend the special course and she graduated first in her class.

After the basic course, Colonel Smith was assigned to the U.S. WAC Center, Fort McClellan, Alabama from 1957 until 1959. At the WAC Center, Colonel Smith first served as an instructor and then as commanding officer of Company B, a WAC basic training company.

Colonel Smith's assignments subsequent to June, 1959, were exclusively to legal work. From June of 1959 until 1961, she served as a claims officer at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In July of 1961, Colonel Smith was one of the first women permanently detailed to the Judge Advocate General's Corps.

From 1961 through 1964, Colonel Smith served as Assistant to the Director of the Academic Department at The Judge Advocate General's School. She then remained at the school and attended the Judge Advocate Career Course (Advanced or Graduate Course) through 1965. After the Career Course, Colonel Smith served until 1966 in the Personnel Law Branch, Military Affairs Division, office of the Judge Advocate General in Washington, D.C.

In 1966, Colonel Smith was assigned as the Command Legal Counsel to the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, a position she held until her retirement in 1978. Upon her retirement, Colonel Smith moved to Newport News, Virginia, where she presently resides.

On 10 July 1972, Colonel Smith was promoted to the grade of Colonel. She was the first, and thus far, the only women to be promoted to Colonel in the Judge Advocate General's Corps. Colonel Smith received the Army Commendation Medal and the Legion of Merit. While in the Army, Colonel Smith authored the following articles:

"The code of conduct in relation to international law," 31 Military Law Review 85 (1966);

"The role of a Judge Advocate on a Commander's staff," Women's Army Corps Journal (April-June 1972);

"The Army's moral waiver program," Juvenile Justice (Journal of the National Council of Juvenile Court Judges)(August 1972);

"Not a viable alternative (the 'Army or Jail' syndrome of some law enforcement agencies)," US Army Recruting and Career Counseling Journal (April 1973).

Women soldiers , Judge Advocate General's Corps., Army, United States
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Source Citation:

Burgan, Linda S. U.S. Army JAG School Oral History Interview Conducted With Colonel Elizabeth R. Smith, Jr. (USA Ret.). Charlottesville, Va., 1989

Judge Advocates Generals School
Published Date:

JAGC Regimental Oral History 1989 Smith

Contents: Biographical sketch, Background, Military career, Retirement, Personal philosophy, thoughts, and reflections.