Bob Smith was born on December 11, 1928, in Washington, D.C. He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Air Force on June 20, 1949, and was commissioned a 2nd Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Williams AFB, Arizona, on June 23, 1950. Lt Smith flew F-86 Sabres with the 27th Fighter Squadron of the 1st Fighter Wing at Griffiss AFB, New York, from July 1950 to June 1951, followed by service with the 335th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing at Kimpo AB, South Korea, from August 1951 to April 1952. During this period, Lt Smith was credited with destroying 2 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 1 probable and 3 damaged. After returning to the U.S., Lt Smith served with the 93rd Air Defense Squadron at Albuquerque Municipal Airport, New Mexico, from April 1952 to August 1953, and then completed an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment to complete his bachelor's degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1955. Capt Smith next completed Test Pilot School and then served as a flight test officer with Air Proving Ground Command at Edwards AFB, California, and Eglin AFB, Florida, from January 1956 to January 1960, followed by service as a project officer on the Titan II ballistic missile section at Vandenberg AFB, California, from January 1960 to June 1962. He attended the Aerospace Research Pilot Course at Edwards AFB from June 1962 to January 1963, and then served as a test pilot on the NF-104 project at Edwards AFB from January 1963 to September 1964. His next assignment was on the staff of Headquarters Air Force Systems Command at Andrews AFB, Maryland, from September 1964 to March 1967, followed by F-105 Thunderchief Combat Crew Training from March to October 1967. Col Smith then deployed to Southeast Asia where he flew combat as commander of the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from October 1967 to June 1968. His final assignment was as an F-111 Project Officer with Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon from June 1968 until his retirement from the Air Force on August 1, 1969. Bob Smith died on August 19, 2010.
His Air Force Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, awards the Air Force Cross to Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Smith, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force. Colonel Smith distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force as an F-105 pilot in Southeast Asia on 19 November 1967. On that date, Colonel Smith led a strike force of twenty F-105 and four F-4 aircraft to the vicinity of Hanoi for the initial strike on an important military target. Colonel Smith gallantly led his force through a hostile aircraft attack, an awesome and extended attack by missiles which downed two aircraft, and into the extremely heavy antiaircraft defenses to strike crippling blows to the assigned target and to a large active surface-to-air missile site. Colonel Smith never wavered from his goal, and with complete disregard for his life, displayed great courage and determined leadership to accomplish an extremely hazardous and difficult mission. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness, Colonel Smith reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.