Foster L. Smith – Major General, United States Air Force

November 9, 2005:

Foster “Lee” Smith, 83, an Air Force Major General who was Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations at Air Force headquarters, died of heart disease October 7, 2005, at the Hermitage in Alexandria, Virginia.

General Smith was born on a farm near Durant, Oklahoma. He attended Southeastern State College in Durant before graduating on D-Day, June 6, 1944, from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps and served in heavy bomber organizations in the United States until after the war. He was then transferred to Germany, where he was a pilot in the Berlin Airlift.

His career spanned 30 years and included serving as Air Force aide to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Omar N. Bradley, in the early 1950s.

As a fighter pilot with the 4th Fighter Group in Korea, General Smith flew 112 combat missions, during which he destroyed four enemy MiG fighter aircraft and shared credit for another.

In 1955, he commanded the Air Force’s first supersonic fighter squadron at George Air Force Base in California. He also was instrumental in converting some aircraft to give them air-to-air refueling capability, enabling their rapid transoceanic deployment from U.S. bases.

After four years at Air Force headquarters in the War Plans Division and duty as secretary to the Air Force chief of staff for Joint Chiefs of Staff Matters, General Smith earned a master’s degree from Harvard University in 1962. He served three years as chief of war plans for the U.S. Air Force in Europe.

During the Vietnam War, he was assigned as vice commander of the 3rd Fighter Wing to Bien Hoa Air Base, from where he flew 160 combat missions. He returned to the United States as a member of the staff group of General Earle G. Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

After being promoted to Brigadier General, he served as deputy director of operations for the National Military Command Center and chief of the Far East Division (J-5), Joint Staff, and was promoted to major general shortly afterward.

Assigned as director of plans and policy at the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, General Smith coordinated all U.S. nuclear war planning in Europe under the auspices of the NATO supreme allied commander.

After retiring in 1975, he was employed by Science Applications International Corp. and the Titan Corp., and later he operated his own consulting company, TOPAL Associates International.

Survivors include his wife of nearly 60 years, Audrey Smith of Alexandria; three children, Paula Smith of Falls Church, Lynn DellaGuardia of Boulder, Colorado, and Todd P. Smith of Austin; and five grandchildren.

General Smith will be buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemeteryon 14 December 2005.

Courtesy of the United States Air Force:

Major General Foster L. Smith was assistant deputy chief of staff, Plans and Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.

General Smith was born in Bryan County, near Durant, Oklahoma, in 1922. He graduated from Russell High School in Durant in 1939, entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in July 1941 and while at the academy, attended pilot training at Stewart Field, N.Y. He graduated from the academy in 1944 with a commission as Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps.

During World War II, he served as a pilot and instructor in B-24 and B-17 bombers and as a B-29 bomber pilot. From April 1946 to July 1947, he served in Germany as a B-17 pilot with the 305th Bombardment Group and then was assigned as a P-47 pilot with the 86th Fighter Wing at Neubiberg. He served as pilot in the Berlin airlift and commanded several support squadrons.

In April 1949 General Smith returned to the United States and was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., in the Directorate of Intelligence. In February 1951 he was assigned as Air Force aide to the chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Omar N. Bradley, with whom he served until departing for combat duty during the Korean War in September 1952.

In Korea he served as an F-86 fighter pilot, squadron executive officer, and group operations officer with the 4th Fighter Wing. He completed 112 combat missions and received official credit for the destruction of 4 1/2 enemy MiG aircraft, one probably destroyed and one damaged.

In September 1953 General Smith went to George Air Force Base, California, where he served as operations officer with the 21st Fighter Bomber Group; operations officer for the 479th Fighter Day Group; and was commander of the 436th Fighter Day Squadron when it was equipped as the world’s first supersonic fighter squadron.

From November 1955 to July 1957, General Smith was assigned to the Nineteenth Air Force at Foster Air Force Base, Texas, as director of operations and training. He participated in the activation and initial deployment to Europe of the U.S. Air Force’s Composite Air Strike Force, was project officer for establishing the inflight refueling capability of Tactical Air Command’s KB-29 and F-100 aircraft, and was project officer for the longest nonstop mass flight of F-100 fighter aircraft from London, England, to Los Angeles, California.

From July 1957 to August 1961 General Smith served at Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Programs, as a plans officer, Secretary for Joint Chiefs of Staff Matters, and in the Weapons Plans Division. From October 1961 to June 1962, he attended the Littauer Center, Harvard University, where he received a master’s degree in public administration.

From July 1962 to July 1965 General Smith again served in Germany as chief, War Plans Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations, U.S. Air Forces in Europe. Following this duty, he attended the National War College in Washington, D.C. In July 1966 General Smith was transferred to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, where he served as vice commander and then commander of the 4453d Combat Crew Training Wing.

During the Vietnam War, General Smith was transferred in 1967 to the Republic of Vietnam as vice commander, 3d Tactical Fighter Wing, at Bien Hoa Air Base and in October 1967 became deputy director, Seventh Air Force Tactical Air Control Center, at Tan Son Nhut Airfield. He flew more than 140 fighter missions in combat.

In May 1968 General Smith again was assigned to the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as Air Force member of the Personal Staff Group of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; in 1969 he became deputy director for operations, National Military Command Center; and in July 1970 assumed duty as chief, Far East Division, in the Plans and Policy Directorate (J-5).

General Smith served as director of plans and policy (J-5), Headquarters U.S. European Command, at Stuttgart, Germany, from August 1971 to August 1974.

He assumed duties as Assistant Ddeputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, in September 1974.

His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster; Silver Star; Legion of Merit; Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters; Airman’s Medal; Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster; Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters; Air Force Commendation Medal; Republic of Vietnam Distinguished Service Order, 2d Class; Republic of Vietnam Air Force Gallantry Medal; and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon. He is a command pilot with more than 5,000 hours military flying.

General Smith’s hometown is Durant, Oklahoma.

He was promoted to the grade of Major General effective September 1, 1971, with date of rank November 10, 1967.

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