Rear Admiral Vinson E. Smith, a native of Carthage, Tenn., graduated in 1969 from Gordonsville High School. He graduated in 1974 from Tennessee Technological University.
After commissioning, he reported to the Precommissioning Unit for USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Following Surface Warfare Qualifications, three division officer tours, and three deployments in Nimitz, he completed two years at the Naval Amphibious School, Little Creek, Va., as an instructor. Rear Adm. Smith completed department head tours as Operations Officer in USS Charles F. Adams (DDG 2) and Weapons Officer in USS Luce (DDG 38). As a department head, he deployed to the North Atlantic with the Standing Naval Force Atlantic and to the Arabian Gulf during the Iran/Iraq tanker war.
In October 1985, he reported to the staff of Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet as the N3 Cruiser/Destroyer Scheduler. In July 1987, he reported to USS Tattnall (DDG 19) as executive officer. This tour was highlighted by Mediterranean and Black Sea deployments. Rear Adm. Smith earned two Master of Arts Degrees ? one in Strategic Studies and National Defense from the Naval War College and a second from Salve Regina University in International Relations, class of 1990. Rear Adm. Smith reported to U.S. Central Command, McDill AFB, Fla., in July 1990 serving in a Joint Billet as Navy Branch Chief for Current Operation in the J3 Directorate. During this tour, Rear Adm. Smith deployed to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm from August 1990 until April 1991.
Following his Joint Duty Assignment, Rear Adm. Smith assumed command of USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) on October 21, 1992. During his tenure, the ship was awarded the COMNAVSURFLANT Safety award and three consecutive Battle Efficiency Awards. In August 1994, he returned to the staff of Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, as the Combat Systems/C4I Officer. Rear Adm. Smith assumed command of Naval Station San Diego in February 1996. The Naval Station is homeport for 50 Navy ships and 50 other tenant commands. While under his command, the Naval Station assumed responsibility for Port Operations as part of the Southwest regionalization effort. Rear Adm. Smith was dual-hatted, also serving as Assistant Chief of Staff for Port Operations on the staff of Commander, Navy Region Southwest.
In August 1999, Rear Adm. Smith reported to the staff of Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, serving as Director, Personal Readiness and Community Support, Washington Liaison Detachment (Pers-6/N15B) and as Branch Head for Plans and Policy (N461) for the Shore Installation Management Division (N46). His most recent assignment was as Commander, Navy Region Northwest and Naval Surface Group, Pacific Northwest.
Rear Adm. Smith's personal awards include: Legion of Merit, Bronze Star; Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal with two Gold Stars; and Navy Commendation Medal. Other awards include: Joint Meritorious Unit Award; Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal with Bronze Star; Battle Efficiency Award with four "E's