By Anne Eickstadt


John Edwin “Jedwin” Smith’s book, “A Marine and a Journalist Walk into a Bar,” is a compilation of his storied journalism career including stories his time in Belvidere.

John Edwin Smith (whose nom de plume is Jedwin Smith) started his award-winning journalism career at the Belvidere Daily Republican and went on to write for the Chicago Tribune, Kansas City Times, Racine Journal Times, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Gwinnett Daily News and others. 

After a long and notable career as a journalist, Smith has also authored five books, the latest being “A Marine and a Journalist Walk into a Bar.”

“My dad was a coach and a teacher and we moved around a lot,” said Smith. “We moved to Belvidere when I was a senior. I had a great time in Belvidere. It’s home. My mother and my brother are buried in the cemetery by the VFW. My brother was the only son of Belvidere to die in Viet Nam.

“I worked for the Belvidere Daily Republican newspaper from 1971 to ’73. It was a great learning experience. They turned me into a pretty good writer, a pretty good newsman. Every newspaper you go to does things differently so you have to learn all over again.

“I visited the Mel Fisher Spanish Treasure Museum in Florida and did an article on Mel Fisher. The paper I was working for told me to stay until they found treasure. I learned how to dive and even got a book out of it (Fatal Treasure).”

Smith is a former Marine; twice joining the corps and his military experience led to his being sent to Beirut, Lebanon, to cover the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. 

“My editor said, ‘They’re never going to believe the name ‘John Smith,’ so they combined my first and middle names into ‘Jedwin,’ which has become the name I write under.

“Ethiopia was getting help from the Soviets, so I was embedded in an Eritrean guerilla group to watch the action and I managed to avoid getting shot. My war coverage led to my receiving another Pulitzer Prize nomination (and finalist) in 1986.

“It’s been a great life.”

Smith relates the backstories to many of the features, interviews, and reporting he did over a 39-year career as a journalist. He has received 57 major writing awards during his career. 

After a long and notable career as a journalist, Jedwin has authored five books on subjects as diverse as Miles Lane, the famous boxing referee; Mel Fisher, world renown deep sea treasure hunter; a personal journey to, and the current state of Israel; and the personal family tragedy of losing a brother in Viet Nam. Smith has received two Pulitzer Prize nominations for his work.

“A Marine and a Journalist Walk into a Bar” is a compilation of his storied journalism career and includes stories of Hank Aaron, the Chicago Bears, Jerry Glanville, Willie Nelson and many more. It even includes a few stories about Belvidere.

Smith will be doing a book signing on Saturday Aug. 14, from 1-5 p.m. for his latest book, “A Marine and a Journalist Walk into a Bar,” at the Boone County Museum of History. Refreshments will be served.

You can read more about Smith at or 

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