Retired July 31, 1963. Died May 12, 1995.
Willard Wright Smith was born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1910. He spent his early life in north Texas, starting school in El Paso. He graduated from high school in Corvallis, Ore., in June 1928, and from Oregon State College in June 1934 with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering majoring in aeronautical engineering.
He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Field Artillery Reserve in June 1934.
He entered the service from the state of Washington, becoming an Army Air Corps flying cadet Oct. 6, 1934, and completed the primary and advanced flying schools at Randolph and Kelly fields, Texas, in October 1935. General Smith was assigned on active duty as a flying cadet at Brook Field, Texas, for one year and then was called to active duty as a second lieutenant, Air Corps Reserve, in October 1936. He received his commission as a second lieutenant, Air Corps Regular Army, on July 3, 1937, and was assigned to Moffett Field, Calif., where he became the base adjutant.
In August 1939, he was moved to Headquarters, Puerto Rican Department, San Juan, Puerto Rico, as the assistant air officer. In October 1940, he was designated air officer of the headquarters. In February 1942, he was assigned as commander, 4th Reconnaissance Squadron at Losey Field, Puerto Rico, and participated in anti-submarine patrol missions until January of 1943.
Returning to the United States in 1943 he was assigned as a staff officer in the Operations Division, Headquarters Third Air Force, at Tampa, Fla. In June 1943 he moved to Washington, D.C., for assignment to the Strategy and Policy Group, Operations Division, War Department General Staff. From July to October 1944, while on temporary duty in the Mediterranean and European Theaters he was assigned as assistant to the assistant chief of staff, plans, XII Tactical Air Command, and assisted in the planning of over-all air operations for the Southern France operation. He was reassigned in May 1945 to the Second Air Force and became commander of the 527th Service Group at Salina, Kan. In December 1945 he was returned to Washington, D.C., with assignment to the Policy Division, Directorate of Plans, Headquarters, Army Air Corps.
General Smith became a student at the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in August 1947 and upon graduation was assigned to the faculty of the Air War College serving as chief of a faculty division for two years.
In May 1951 he was assigned to the Strategic Air Command as deputy commander, 92nd Bomb Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. In June 1952, he was placed on extended temporary duty in the Far East as commander, l9th Bomb Group (Wing) at Kadena, Okinawa, and participated in operations in Korea, flying 31 combat missions (28 as airborne commander). Returning to the United States in late December 1952, he had duty as acting deputy division commander, 57th Air Division, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., until July when he became a student at the National War College, Washington, D.C.
In June 1954, he returned to the Strategic Air Command as commander, 97th Bomb Wing, Biggs Air Force Base, Texas. While at Biggs, he was responsible for converting the last B-50 prop-equipped wing in SAC to B-47 Stratojets.
In March 1956, he was named commander, 12th Air Division, at March Air Force Base, Calif. Relinquishing this command, the general received his fourth assignment in Washington, D.C., to the staff of the Net Evaluation Subcommittee, National Security Council. In August 1957, he was assigned duty as deputy director of that staff.
In November 1959, he was reassigned to Headquarters, U.S. Air Force as deputy director, operational requirements, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations.
In May 1961, he was designated by the chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, to become the first chief, Joint Alternate Command Element, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
General Smith is a rated command pilot and has been "checked out" in the B-47 Stratojet and has maintained current status in the jets in the B-57.