Retired June 1, 1988.
Major General James P. Smothermon is director of operations, Defense Nuclear Agency, Alexandria, Va.
General Smothermon was born in 1935, in Blytheville, Ark., and graduated from Blytheville High School in 1953. He attended the University of Arkansas prior to entering the aviation cadet program in October 1954. He earned a bachelor's degree in business through the Bootstrap program from the University of Nebraska in 1973. He completed the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1972 and the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Business in 1977 under the Department of Defense advanced management program for senior executives, serving as class president.
The general completed the Air Force aviation cadet program in February 1956, was commissioned as a second lieutenant and awarded his pilot wings at Bryan Air Force Base, Texas. His first assignment was to McCoy Air Force Base, Fla., as a B-47 co-pilot with the Strategic Air Command. Within two years he had completed more than 1,000 flying hours and, at the age of 23, became the command's youngest aircraft commander.
In November 1961 he transferred to Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., as an aircraft commander with the 70th Bombardment Wing. In June 1962 he qualified as a pilot in the Air Force's first supersonic bomber, the B-58, at Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, while assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Wing. He returned to Little Rock in August 1964 when the 43rd Bombardment Wing moved there.
He was assigned to SAC's 2nd Air Force (now 8th Air Force) at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., in August 1966 as a member of the operations staff, responsible for developing the aircrew training program for the then-new swing-wing FB-111. In January 1968 General Smothermon began RF-4C combat air crew training at Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas, and upon completion in July 1968, transferred to the 11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. During his Southeast Asia tour of duty, he flew 188 combat missions, 100 flown over North Vietnam.
In July 1969 General Smothermon became an FB-111 instructor pilot with the 9th Bombardment Squadron at Carswell Air Force Base. He transferred to Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., in July 1970 as an operations staff officer and later served as chief of the Aircrew Training Division, under the deputy chief of staff for operations. In July 1974 he assumed command of the 82nd Air Base Group at Williams Air Force Base, Ariz. He became commander of the 71st Flying Training Wing at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., in April 1975.
From August 1976 to June 1979 General Smothermon served as vice commander of Keesler Technical Training Center, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. He then became inspector general for U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, West Germany. The general was assigned as commander of the United States Logistics Group, Ankara Air Station, Turkey, in June 1981. In June 1983 he transferred to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, as vice commander of Air Training Command.
In July 1985 he became commander, U.S. Air Forces Korea, United Nations Command Air Component; and commander, 314th Air Division, with headquarters at Osan Air Base, South Korea. He also was commander of the Korean Air Defense Sector; director of readiness and combat operations; and chief of staff of the Republic of Korea/United States Air Component Command, Combined Forces Command. In August 1986 General Smotherman became chief of staff, Allied Air Forces Southern Europe, Naples, Italy. He assumed his present position in September 1987.
The general is a command pilot with more than 5,278 flying hours. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 13 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Combat Readiness Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with three service stars, Air Force Overseas Ribbon-Short, Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with six oak leaf clusters, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
He was promoted to major general Oct. 1, 1981, with date of rank June 1, 1978.