Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: William

Last Name: Smith

Birthplace: Hot Springs, AR, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Young

Date of Birth: 13 August 1925

Rank: General

Years Served: 1948-1983
William Young Smith

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1948

•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


William Young Smith

General, U.S. Air Force

William Young Smith was born on 13 August 1925 in Hot Springs, AR, where he graduated from high school in 1943. He spent one year at Washington and Lee University, then entered the U.S. Military Academy. He graduated in 1948 and was among the first graduates of the USMA commissioned directly into the newly-established U.S. Air Force as a Second Lieutenant.

Smith's first assignment was training recruits at Lackland AFB, TX. Subsequently, he went through flight training at Randolph AFB, TX, and Williams AFB, AZ, receiving his pilot wings in September 1949. He then served as a pilot with the 20th Fighter-Bomber Group at Shaw AFB, SC.

In March 1951, Smith was assigned to the 27th Fighter Escort Group at Itazuke Air Base, Japan, and flew combat missions over Korea in F-84 Thunderjets. He spent two months as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) with the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry Division. He next joined the 49th Fighter-Bomber Group and served as Operations Officer for combat crew training at Itazuke, then as Assistant Group Operations Officer at Taegu Air Base, South Korea, flying combat missions until hit by flak and wounded on his 97th mission.

After prolonged hospitalization, Smith attended Harvard University for graduate study in preparation for a teaching assignment with the Department of Social Sciences at the USMA.

From August 1954 to July 1958, he taught Government, Economic and International Relations, and attained the rank of Associate Professor at the USMA. He attended the Air Command and Staff College from August 1958 to June 1959. He spent that summer on special assignment with the President's Committee to study the U.S. Military Assistance Program; the Draper Committee. In the fall, he became a Planning and Programming Officer with the Deputy Director of War Plans in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Programs, Headquarters USAF, in Washington, DC.

In July 1961, he moved to the White House as Air Force Staff Assistant to General Maxwell D. Taylor who was then Military Representative to President John F. Kennedy. When General Taylor became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962, Smith worked in a dual capacity as an Assistant to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as a staff member on the National Security Council under McGeorge Bundy.

Smith went to the National War College in August 1964 and after graduation in June 1965, was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Lindsey Air Station, Germany. He worked first in the Policy and Negotiations Division and later as Chief, War Plans Division, both under the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. In July 1967, he became Commander of the 603rd Air Base Wing at Sembach Air Base, Germany.

Following his return to the U.S. in July 1968, he became Military Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force, serving first with Secretary Harold Brown and subsequently with Secretary Robert C. Seamans Jr. In this position, it was Smith's job to advise and assist the Secretary on matters of substance, particularly operational, budgetary, joint-service and system acquisition matters. In addition he carried out special projects for the Secretary.

He was appointed Vice Commander of the Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area, now the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, in August 1971, and became Commander in June 1972. The Center provided logistics support for U.S. Air Force weapon systems that included B-52s and associated missiles, A-7Ds, C-135s, and its configurations ranging from tankers to airborne command posts, command control communications systems, aircraft engines for major Air Force combat and airlift aircraft, and component parts for various Air Force equipment.

In October 1973, Smith transferred to Air Force Headquarters and served as Director of Doctrine, Concepts and Objectives in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations. In July 1974, he was appointed Director of Policy Plans and National Security Council Affairs, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. He became Assistant to the Chairman, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in September 1975.

Smith was promoted to the four-star rank of General on 1 July 1979 and returned to Europe as Chief of Staff for Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), Belgium, and became Deputy Commander-in-Chief, U.S. European Command in June 1981.

General Smith retired from the Air Force on 31 July 1983.

While in the Air Force, he received a Master of Public Administration Degree in 1954, and a Doctorate in Political Economy and Government in 1961; both were from Harvard University. He completed Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, AL, in 1959 and the National War College at Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC, in 1965.

Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal

Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (2 Awards)

Silver Star Medal

Legion of Merit

Air Medal (4 Awards)

Joint Service Commendation Medal

Purple Heart


Air Force Pilot Badge
Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge

Honoree ID: 844   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image