Retired Oct. 1, 1973. Died April 8, 2004.
Lieutenant General Robert Nelson Smith is chief of staff, United Nations Command, Korea, and chief of staff, U.S. Forces, Korea.
General Smith was born in Burlington, Mass., in 1915. He graduated from Fryeburg Academy, Fryeburg, Maine, in 1934 and entered Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, graduating in 1938 with a bachelor of science degree in government. After graduation he was employed as a salesman by Firestone Tire and Rubber Company and later as a district manager for the General Tire and Rubber Company. He began his military career in April 1941 as an aviation cadet at Gunter Field, Ala., and was commissioned a second lieutenant in December 1941.
He was assigned as plans and operations officer for the 65th Bombardment Squadron, Bangor, Maine, and then in Australia. From June 1942 to February 1944, he was a B-26 pilot in the 408th Bombardment Squadron in the Southwest Pacific Area, and then was assistant director of operations, V Bomber Command in New Guinea. He flew 51 missions with a total of 145 combat hours and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal and Soldier's Medal.
He returned to the United States, and in May 1944 was assigned as deputy squadron commander, B-26 Retraining Unit, Lake Charles, La. From July 1944 to January 1945 he was chief, Medium and Light Bombardment Training Section, Headquarters Third Air Force, Tampa, Fla., and from January 1945 to February 1946 was chief, Very Heavy Bombardment Training Section and Standardization Board of the Third Air Force.
In March 1946 General Smith became assistant to chief, Air Estimates Branch in the Air Intelligence Division, Headquarters Army Air Forces, Washington, D.C., and from July 1947 to March 1949 was chief, Planning Estimates Section of that branch. In May 1949 he was assigned as chief, U.S. Air Force Mission to Haiti. For his service as mission chief, he was presented the National Order of Honor and Merit Medal by the Republic of Haiti.
In July 1952 he was assigned to Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., as deputy chief, Target Analysis Division, Directorate of Intelligence, became chief of the division in July 1953, and was assigned as the director of intelligence in June 1955.
During his service as director of intelligence for SAC, General Smith was appointed the Air Force coordinator on the secretary of defense Technical Advisory Group in 1958. This group was organized to identify the problems associated with, and the safeguards required against, a surprise attack on the United States. Subsequently, he was appointed the director of the Military Staff of the United States, which was sent to Geneva, Switzerland, for the purpose of providing the technical expertise necessary for documenting the problems associated with a surprise attack on the free nations of the world. He also was appointed chairman of several Allied Nations committees which functioned directly with committees formed by the Eastern Bloc Nations, headed by the Soviet Union.
General Smith, as the director of intelligence, SAC, pioneered the use of computer techniques in the collection, processing, analysis and dissemination of vital intelligence data. His personal efforts were nationally recognized in 1964 by "Aviation Week and Space Technology" which cited him for his outstanding contribution to the progress of aerospace and his perceptive drive to apply new technology to intelligence operations. For his service as SAC director of intelligence for more than 10 years, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
In August 1965 General Smith was assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, as the director of plans, and in September 1966, became the assistant deputy chief of staff. Additionally, he was appointed chairman of the United States Section of the Canada-United States Military Cooperation Committee in December 1966.
In addition to his military responsibilities, General Smith is also a member of the Board of Overseers of Bowdoin College. In 1965 he was selected as Fryeburg Academy's distinguished alumnus, and in October 1966 he was appointed a trustee of the academy.
His military decorations include the Army and Air Force Distinguished Service Medals, Distinguished Flying Cross, Soldier's Medal, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal and the National Order of Honor and Merit Medal (Haiti). He is a command pilot.