Merle J. Smith

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Merle James Smith was the second African-American to be appointed to attend the Coast Guard academy, and, in 1966, was the first to graduate.[1][2][3]

Smith was named after his father, a Colonel in the United States Army. His wife Jo-Ann Henry, was the daughter of Oliver Henry, a retired Chief Warrant Officer]], the first African-American to transfer from being a Mess Steward to a technical discipline.

Smith's first command was the USCGC Cape Wash. Smith served in Vietnam, where he earned a Bronze Star. Smith retired a Lieutenant Commander.