Retired Aug. 1, 1969. Died July 10, 1998.
William Thomas Smith, chief of staff, Air Force Communications Service, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., was born Aug. 19, 1913 in Detroit, Mich. He attended the Detroit public schools, graduated from Eastern High School in 1930, and attended the University of Detroit.
In 1932 he joined the Michigan National Guard and three years later won a competitive appointment to the U.S. Military Academy from the National Guard. He graduated from West Point with a bachelor of science degree in 1939 and attended flying school. General Smith earned his pilot wings upon graduation from the Air Corps Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas, in June 1940.
He was initially assigned as a flying instructor at the Air Corps Basic Flying School, Randolph Field, Texas. During the next three years he served as flight instructor and check pilot at several primary flying schools and as director of training and operations of the Basic Flying School at Courtland, Ala. After this he became assistant deputy chief of staff for operations and then deputy chief of staff at Headquarters Army Air Forces Eastern Flying Training Command at Maxwell Field, Ala. Following the cessation of hostilities in Europe, the general joined the redeployed 8th Air Force at Okinawa in 1945, and later moved to Headquarters 5th Air Force in Japan where he served as assistant chief of staff for operations. In December 1947 he returned to the United States.
During January of 1948, General Smith was assigned to the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, first as chief of the Congressional Liaison Branch and then as executive officer in the Directorate of Legislation and Liaison. Two and a half years later he was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force Security Service, Brooks Air Force Base, Texas, and in 1951 was named chief of staff of the Security Service.
He attended the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., from 1953 to 1954. During 1954 he was named commander of the 1804th Airways and Air Communications Service Wing, headquartered at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. In that capacity, General Smith commanded all AACS, units in the Alaskan Theatre and was responsible for operating and maintaining all AACS facilities in Alaska and Western Canada. This responsibility included point to point and air to ground communications, plus radar and radio navigational aids which insured the safe flight of military aircraft. In that assignment he completely modernized the global communications stations at Elmendorf, Eielson and Ladd Air Force bases and improved air traffic control procedures.
General Smith relinquished his Alaskan Command in June of 1956 and served as commander of Andrews Air Force Base, Md., from July 23, 1956 to Aug. 28, 1961.
On Aug. 29, 1961 the general was assigned as chief of staff for the Air Force Communications Service, a major air command established to provide adequate, reliable and secure communications, flight facilities and air traffic control service primarily to the U.S. Air Force, and to other agencies, government or civil, national or foreign, as designated by the chief of staff, U.S. Air Force.
The general is a command pilot. He was promoted to brigadier general March 3, 1961. His awards include the Legion of Merit, the Air Medal and the Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters.