Retired. Died March 24, 1996.
Harold L. Smith was born in Washington, Pa., in 1906. Appointed to the U.S. Military Academy in 1926, he graduated in the upper half of the class of 1930. A year later, in 1931, after basic flight training at March Field, Calif., 2nd Lt. Harold Smith was awarded his pilot wings at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas.
Assigned to Luke Field, Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, Lieutenant Smith served in the 72nd Bombardment Squadron and on the field command staff as assistant adjutant. After three years in Honolulu, he was assigned to the headquarters at March Field under General H.H. Arnold and designated adjutant in the district Civilian Conservation Corps. Lieutenant Smith served in that capacity for three years and was appointed temporary first lieutenant and assistant communications officer for the command in addition to his CCC duties.
Lieutenant Smith was promoted to permanent first lieutenant in 1935. He was then sent to the California Institute of Technology, where he earned his master of science degree in 1938.
In 1939, Lieutenant Smith was chosen by the Army Air Force to act as the meteorological and communications officer on an airfield survey flight to Alaska and the Aleutians. This flight was headed by the later generals John C. H. Lee and Thomas Handy. As a result of this survey, the present sites of Elmendorf and Ladd Air Force bases were picked.
Then followed several years of scientific and military study during which Lieutenant Smith collaborated with Dr. Irving P. Krick of the California Institute of Technology, creating for the Army Air Force what is believed to be the first extended forecast method used in the military. Using this method, Lieutenant Smith provided monthly and quarterly forecasts for the March Field, Calif., area.
Assigned to Bolling Field, Washington, D.C., at the direction of General Arnold, Lieutenant Smith and three weather specialists created the Weather Research Center of the Army Air Force. When this section was expanded, Lieutenant Smith was made chief of the Research Division. There he collaborated closely with the U.S. Weather Bureau and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the latter dealing primarily with mathematical analysis as applied to extended forecasting.
Promoted in 1940, Captain Smith attended the Army Air Forces Tactical School at Maxwell Field, Ala., and in early 1942, the Command and General Staff School. During this period, Captain Smith was promoted in quick succession to the grade of colonel.
As a result of his previous work and experience in Alaska, Colonel Smith was reassigned in the fall of 1942 to command the 11th Weather Region at Elmendorf. His work in Alaska and the Aleutians during World War II earned Colonel Smith the Legion of Merit in 1945, and for all his units in the Aleutians and at the Elmendorf headquarters, unit citations. During the heavy air strikes against Japan, Colonel Smith was called to Guam by General Arnold for purposes of consultation with other meteorologists for possible lower level bombing and step-up of air operations against the Japanese.
Upon Colonel Smith's return from the Alaskan theater, he organized and became commander of the Continental Weather Wing in Oklahoma and, after graduation from the National War College in 1947, was assigned as deputy commander and chief of staff of the Air Weather Service. Later he returned to command the newly designated 2059th Air Weather Wing based at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.
On July 1, 1952, Colonel Smith took command of the 1605th Air Base Group at Lajes Field, Azores. In 1953, this organization was designated the 1605th Air Base Wing. In March 1953, the unified command, U.S. Forces Azores was created under the Commander-in-Chief Atlantic, and Colonel Smith was designated its first commander. As a result of his additional responsibilities, Colonel Smith was promoted to brigadier general on Oct. 2, 1954.
In recognition of his unceasing efforts and achievements in bring about better understanding and cooperation with the Portuguese national and civil authorities and the Portuguese military commands, the Portuguese government awarded General Smith their Medal of Military Merit, First Class. The medal was presented on behalf of the Portuguese Republic by General Carlos de Costa Macedo, chief of staff of the Portuguese air force at Lajes on July 24, 1954.
In 1956, General Smith was designated by CINCLANT and approved by the Department of Defense to negotiate with the Portuguese defense authorities for the new Azores Defense Agreement. Prior to this time, he had prepared the basic document that was the foundation for the proposed defense agreement. The agreement was assigned in Lisbon on Nov. 15, 1957.
General Smith, through insistence on common courtesy and mutual trust and respect in dealings between Portuguese and United States forces, has developed a harmonious relationship and spirit of friendly cooperation that is evident on every hand at the Azores Air Transport Station.
On June 3, 1956, the American International College at Springfield, Mass., awarded General Smith a doctor of science degree in engineering. In bestowing the degree, John F. Hines, president of the college, said of General Smith: "As military commander, engineer, and diplomat, you have strengthened America's role in our Atlantic defenses and have cause a firmer tie of understanding between the people of Portugal and the United States."
General Smith is being assigned as deputy commander, Airways and Air Communications Service.
Very interested in the sciences, especially engineering design and the true reproduction of sound, General Smith is a member of the New York Academy of Science, the American Institute of Physics, and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is listed in the American Men of Science and the Oklahoma Men of Science publications.
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Legion of Merit
American Defense Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with three service stars
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Medal of Military Merit, First Class (Portuguese)