Gov. Phil Bryant has named Col. Lee Smithson as incoming Executive Director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Current MEMA Executive Director Robert Latham is retiring effective Jan. 31 and Col. Smithson will begin on Feb. 1. He is currently Director of Military Support for the Mississippi National Guard and has been in that role since April 2005.
Smithson has served as Director of Military Support for the Mississippi National Guard during Hurricanes Katrina, Gustav, Ike and Isaac, the Mississippi River Flood of 2011, multiple tornado outbreaks, and the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill in 2010.
Smithson has also held numerous command and staff positions during his 31-year career including: commander of an M-1 tank company in the Federal Republic of Germany, Infantry Battalion Executive Officer with duty in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Commander and First Cavalry Division Rear Operations Center with duty in Baghdad, Iraq.
He has received numerous awards and decorations including the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with four Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with four Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Achievement Medal, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the NATO Medal and the Mississippi Magnolia Cross, which is the state’s highest military award. He also has the Combat Action Badge.
Smithson’s military education includes the Armor Officer Basic and Advance Courses, Combined Arms Services Staff School, Command and General Staff Officer’s Course and the U.S. Army War College.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Tulane University, a Master of Strategic Studies Degree from the U.S. Army War College and a Master of Homeland Security Degree from the Naval Postgraduate School.
Smithson is married to the former Elizabeth Black of Jackson and they have two children.
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