Daugherty Mason Smith – Colonel, United States Army

Courtesy of his classmates, United States Military Academy:

Daugherty Mason Smith
No. 13327  •   21 December 1917 – 22 November 1990
Died in Fairfax, Virginia, aged 72 years
Interment: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia



Daugherty Mason “Snuffy” Smith joined the Class of  January 1943 in 1939 as a recognized plebe. A wonderful career followed involving service in both Europe and Japan in World War II, and further service in Southeast Asia before our commitment to Vietnam became as well-known as in the 1960s.

As “K” Company’s “shortest flanker,” to quote our Howitzer, he played an important role in the company, acting as academic coach for those who needed help, serving as a cadet lieutenant, singing four years in the Catholic Chapel Choir, and generally impressing everyone with his unselfish nature and his devotion to duty.

Snuffy was born in Denver but spent his youth in Iowa and considered himself an Iowa boy. Before entering USMA, he had prepared at the Abraham Lincoln High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he was a cadet colonel, and then two years at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, where his two eldest sons would later graduate to start military careers. He also managed to squeeze in two years in the Iowa National Guard, where he made sergeant.

Right after graduation, Snuffy returned to Council Bluffs to marry Dorothy, a marriage that was to last until his death almost 48 years later. Their marriage was followed by the hectic World War II period, with Snuffy joining the 97th Infantry Division’s Signal Company and staying with them in the ETO, through two campaigns, redeployment to Cebu and Japan and a series of high-level assignments in Japan. His last assignment as Crypto Officer of the Far East Command earned him the first of several Commendation Medals.

The period after World War II included challenging Department of the Army assignments with the Chief Signal Officer, and with the JCEC — a committee he accompanied on trips to Canada, Europe, and Africa. He graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College in 1954 after earning a master’s in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin. Later he also earned a master’s in international relations from GWU. From Leavenworth in 1954, Snuffy and Dorothy started a three-year assignment to SHAPE, then located west of Paris. They enjoyed their time in France and the excitement of the international community at SHAPE, where he served for the AC of S (C&E).

That international assignment prepared him well for the next three years on the Joint Staff. The JCS assignment led to PACOM in Hawaii. Once again Snuffy traveled extensively on TDY in the developing theater of operations, particularly in Thailand. That experience led naturally to command of the 125th Signal Battalion of the 25th Division at Schofield, where again he performed with distinction. Chosen for the Army War College, he graduated in 1966. Later he took the family with him to Korea in 1969, where he wore four hats in the communications field (ACofS CE for the UN
Forces, U.S. Forces Korea, and Eighth Army, as well as Commander, STRATCOM Brigade, Korea). They returned to the U.S. for a final assignment at the Army Materiel Command. In 1973, thirty years after graduation, Snuffy retired from active service.

After enjoying retired life for four years, Snuffy returned to the workforce as a senior scientist, Operations Research Institute/Calculon under contract to the Department of Energy. As principal consultant he advised on radio frequency management and C-E support for emergency planning programs. DOE activities involved development of international and national radio spectrum policy. Eleven years later he retired again.

A classmate who ran into Snuffy during that period described him as “. . . a totally happy man; happy in his work, with enough compensation to live as he and Dorothy wanted; with happy memories of his service and their life together; and particularly happy with their family.”

He retired from Calculon in 1987, but life remained centered around family, community, and church. Then, on 22 November 1990, Snuffy died of congestive heart failure.

 We salute a classmate who never sought publicity, who worked quietly but with dedication and professionalism at everything he did, and whose life exemplified all those virtues that describe a Christian gentleman. But no one who stood in Arlington Cemetery that farewell day could fail to be impressed by the family he had nurtured and for whom he had set an example: five sons, two daughters, and 19 grandchildren. Mason, an Army colonel, and Gary, an Army Lieutenant Colonel, both Vietnam veterans, are old enough that some of us served with them. Stephan graduated from
West Point when a classmate was Supe and is currently the deputy commander, Chicago District, Corps of Engineers. All continue the military tradition. Bruce, now a civilian, served in an Engineer battalion in Alaska and is presently the Construction and Management Officer, DEH, Vint Hill Farms Station. Christine and Annette, both with teaching degrees, are married and live in Dayton and Norfolk, respectively. Mark is a nuclear engineer living in Herndon, Virginia.

It is obvious that Snuffy’s life was based on four pillars: Duty, Honor, Country, and Family. He did us all proud, and we stand taller in his shadow.

 — A classmate

Note: His son, Lieutenant Colonel Gary F. Smith, United States Army (retired), was attending a meeting at the Pentagon on 11 September 2001 and was killed when American Airlines Flight 877 crashed into the building.  He also lies at rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

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