Elmer Smith was born on October 21, 1919, in Wynono, Oklahoma. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 16, 1940, and served in the Signal Corps until entering the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on January 1, 1943. Smith was commissioned a 2nd Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Moore Field, Texas, on October 1, 1943, and he then completed P-47 Thunderbolt fighter training before serving with the 328th Fighter Squadron of the 352nd Fighter Group in England from April to December 1944. During this time, Lt Smith was credited with the destruction of 1.5 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 1 on the ground while strafing enemy airfields while flying the P-51 Mustang. He left active duty and joined the Air Force Reserve on September 11, 1945, and retired from the reserves on June 28, 1966.
His Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary achievement and heroism in aerial combat and the destruction of one enemy airplane over enemy occupied Continental Europe. The skillful and zealous manner in which Lt. Smith has sought out the enemy and destroyed him, his devotion to duty and courage under all conditions serve as an inspiration to his fellow flyers. His actions on all those occasions reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.