Lt. Col. Warren H. Smith, Jr., USAF (Ret.)

Lieutenant Colonel Warren H. Smith, Jr. US Air Force (Ret ) (1920-2018 ) was born March 22, 1920 in Lincoln, RI, and lived in the house he was brought up in until his death in 2018. He attended Moses Brown School, Slater Junior High School and then Pawtucket High School. He went to Middlebury College in Vermont where the plan was to earn his BA degree, then transfer to MIT for his BS. On his Christmas vacation in 1941 he enlisted as an Army aviation cadet. After a delay of several months he was finally sent to the aviation cadet center at Kelly Field, San Antonio, TX.

After earning his wings and commission he went through B-24 combat training in Colorado. He and his crew then picked up a brand-new B-24 in Wichita with orders to fly to the 14th Air Force in Kunming, China. They finally arrived in Kunming in early November 1943. He served in the 374th Bombardment Squadron of the 308th Bombardment Group, flying 75 combat missions. Most were skip bombing attacks against Japanese shipping coming out of Saigon.

When the war ended he was offered a regular Army commission as a Captain and was assigned to McDill Field in Tampa, During the cold war Smith flew classified missions out of Alaska in a B-29 modified for ELINT (electronic intercept) missions. In an understatement, Smith called flying over Soviet airspace performing reconnaissance missions “edgy work”. The B-29s were phased out as the Boeing B-47 came on the scene, This was a long-range, six-engine bomber designed to fly at subsonic speed at high altitude. Its primary mission was to drop nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union. As the B-47 came on line he was selected to be one of the first to transition. All pilots also had to become rated as navigators, bombardiers and radio operators for this airplane. For the next six years he was one of Curtis LeMay’s ready crews of the Strategic Air Command in Nebraska, sitting on the flight line with a nuclear weapon in his bomb bay.

He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel, and at the time he left the Air Force he had more command time and more flight time in the B-47 than anyone else in the Air Force.

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