Veterans

August 29, 2012

World War II vet awarded Distinguished Flying Cross

SSgt. Clinton Atkins
JB San Antonio-Randolph, Texas
Air Force photograph by Rich McFadden
Maj. Gen. Timothy Zadalis (left), Air Education and Training Command director of Intelligence, Operations and Nuclear Integration, presents the Distinguished Flying Cross to former Army Air Corps 2nd Lt. Samuel W. Smith, 360th Bombardment Squadron B-17 aircraft commander, during a ceremony at Bldg. 100 at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Aug. 24, 2012. During WWII, Lieutenant Smith's display of exemplary knowledge and outstanding Airmanship under extreme and hazardous conditions culminated in the successful landing of his damaged aircraft upon a return from a mission to Hopston, Germany.

Family, friends, senior leaders and pilots gathered Aug. 24 to honor a World War II B-17 Flying Fortress pilot during an award ceremony at Randolph’s famed Taj Mahal where he was award the Distinguished Flying Cross medal.

Second Lt. Samuel Smith was assigned to the 360th Bombardment Squadron at RAF Molesworth, England, during the Second World War. He flew 24 bombing missions over Nazi Germany during the war, one of which earned him the DFC nearly 70 years later.

“It’s not often in one’s career, and for most careers it never happens, where you have the opportunity to learn so much about a group of men and women who literally changed the world,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy Zadalis, Air Education and Training Command Director of Intelligence, Operations and Nuclear Integration, during the ceremony.. “A group of men and women who became known as the world’s greatest generation and today we’re here to honor one of those tremendous giants, (Smith), for his airmanship…”

Smith was awarded for his piloting prowess while landing a crippled B-17 upon returning from a bombing mission to Hopston, Germany, March 1, 1945. The B-17’s undercarriage and landing gear was damaged by flack from anti-aircraft gunfire.

Somehow Smith was able to make a hard right turn upon landing in order to clear the runway for approaching aircraft, saving the lives of his crew members and fellow bombers in the process.
“If you could imagine the airfield, it’s just a concrete runway; aircraft maybe 30 seconds in trail, all of them low on fuel because there was no extra weight on those aircraft to travel,” said Zadalis. “So any problem on the runway probably meant aircraft ditching or trying to divert or significant problems for the aircraft behind.”

Zadalis praised Smith’s and his fellow war fighters’ efforts for helping to make the U.S. Air Force the world’s great airpower.

“I would share with you, in the 70 years since then … our Air Force has changed tremendously. We dominate the air, we dominate space and we’re into all kinds of domain including cyberspace … but there is one thing not a single one of these young men and women up here or I or anybody in uniform will forget and that’s we stand on the shoulders of giants, we stand on the shoulders of men and women who gave our freedom and to this day are an example of service and selflessness.”

After his speech, Zaladis presented the award, which Smith humbly accepted. Smith went on thank his ground support crew for the maintenance of his airplane. “I owe them a tremendous amount,” said the Texas native.

“It’s amazing to me that you could have a bunch of teenage guys in their late teens and early 20s from all parts of this country and you could put them together and form an air force and a group of people that could be trained and they could actually go to Europe and we could whip the Luftwaffe…and I’m fortunate to be one of that group,” said Smith.

To Smith, who will be 88 years old Sept. 11, the award was bittersweet. His crew wasn’t able to see him get the award.

“In lots of respects I’m sad too, because none my crew members can be here and most of them have already passed away and they were with me when all of this action took place,” he said. “We flew 24 combat missions together and I was fortunate in that I was able to bring the same crew back home after the war ended in Europe. I honor them also, because us pilots without the support of your crew and ground personnel you can’t do all the things that you do.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines January 23, 2015

News: Two Marines identified in deadly California helo crash - Two Marine Corps officers killed when their helicopter crashed during a training exercise in the Southern California desert were remembered Jan. 25 as talented pilots. Greek F-16 crashes in Spain during NATO exercise - Ten people died Jan. 26 after a Greek air force F-16 jet crashed...
 
 

News Briefs January 26, 2015

Navy wants to increase use of sonar-emitting buoys The U.S. Navy is seeking permits to expand sonar and other training exercises off the Pacific Coast, a proposal raising concerns from animal advocates who say that more sonar-emitting buoys would harm whales. The Navy now wants to deploy up to 720 sonobuoys about 12 miles off...
 
 
Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards

ANG conducts air refueling training with NATO allies in Germany

Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards A NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft approaches a Utah Air National Guard KC-135R Stratotanker for air refueling during a training flight over Germany on Jan. 13, 2015. Nearly 30 airme...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales

Ramstein Airmen train with French air force

Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales Two U.S. Air Force pilots and a French air force navigator discuss the route to the drop zone during a simulated low-level drop Jan. 21, 2015, at Orleans – Bricy Air...
 
 

Marines receive first F-35C Lightning II carrier variant

The first F-35C Lightning II, carrier variant, for the U.S. Marine Corps touched-down on the flight line at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 13, from the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth, Texas, to begin training in support of carrier-based operations. U.S. Marine Lt. Col. J.T. Ryan, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 501 detachment commander...
 
 

VA announces single regional framework under MyVA initiative

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Jan. 26 that it is taking the first steps under the MyVA initiative to realign its many organizational maps into one map with five regions to better serve Veterans. The new regions under the MyVA alignment will allow VA to begin the process of integrating disparate organizational boundaries into...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>