99-year-old Prattville veteran presented Quilt of Valor

Marvin G. Smith was awarded a Quilt of Valor for his decades of service in the military. (WSFA 12 News)
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 11:00 PM CDT
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PRATTVILLE, Ala. (WSFA) - A 99-year-old veteran in Prattville was awarded a Quilt of Valor for his decades of service in the military.

At just 17 years of age, Marvin G. Smith joined the Navy in 1941. He spent 38 years serving our country.

The Peter Forney Chapter 3052 of the Daughters of the American Revolution gifted Captain Smith with the quilt. It took DAR member Nancy Billingslea 145 hours to hand sew the quilt.

A Quilt of Valor is handmade and awarded to a service member or veteran who has been touched by war.

“It’s amazing to me that people are so kind and thoughtful to do something like this,” Smith said. “I will treasure that quilt forever. I’ve got to find a place to put it so everybody can see it when they come to my place.”

“When you experience dark times or memories, or the need of a warmth, grateful hug, you will wrap your quilt around you so it can provide the comfort we have sewn into every seam,” said Billingslea.

Along with the quilt, Smith was also presented with a certificate from the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, thanking him for his sacrifice in serving our country.

Smith served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

“During the Cold War he served on naval cruisers and the battleship, the USS Missouri, and you know what happened on the USS Missouri in World War II, the Japanese surrendered on that ship,” said Martha Poole Simmons, a Red Cross volunteer.

“I went where they said and did what they told me to do, and it paid off, it really did,” Smith said. “I would do it all over again.”

Smith had a distinguished career as a Navy officer, both on ship and shore. Some of his accomplishments include serving as the communications officer and the operations officer on the Allen M. Sumner (DD692), executive officer on the Vital (MSO-474), executive officer on the Valor (MSO-472), operations officer on the Hoel (DDG-13), commanding officer on the Endurance (MSO-435), executive officer on the USS Dahlgren (DLG-12) and commanding officer on the USS ‘Callahan (DE-1051).

He served two tours in Vietnam, graduated from the War College at Maxwell AFB, served with the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, served as the commander of one of three teams, each having 40 men with the Fleet Introduction Team, Spruance Class destroyers in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and served as NROTC commander at University of Mississippi for two years.

Smith received a master’s degree in business administration from George Washington University and a master of science degree from Troy State University. He is also a graduate of the General Line and Naval Science School in Monterey, California.

Smith retired from military service in 1979. Since retirement from all employment in 1979, Smith has served as a volunteer with First United Methodist Church of Prattville, and also serves with Habitat for Humanity, building homes for the needy and ramps for handicapped people. During leisure time, Smith enjoys playing golf and piloting planes.

Smith was born in 1923 in Indianapolis. He was married to Joan Merriam Smith for three years, however, she did not survive the crash of an airplane that had a folded wing that she was piloting.

Smith had been married to Martha Ann Slade for 52 years, and they have one son, one daughter and three grandchildren.

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