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147: Vietnam POW Captain Wayne O. Smith Lives in Gratitude

Jones.Show: Jonesing For Good

Release Date: 05/26/2022

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Jones.Show: Jonesing For Good

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Jones.Show: Jonesing For Good

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Highly decorated Air Force veteran Wayne O. Smith was born in 1943 in Richmond, Kentucky. He entered the U.S. Air Force Academy on June 26, 1961, and graduated with a commission as a 2d Lt. on June 9, 1965. 

Lt. Smith next attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Moody AFB, Georgia, where he was awarded his pilot wings in September 1966. He served with the 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB, Florida, from October 1966 to July 1967, when he deployed with his unit to Southeast Asia. He then flew with the 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ubon Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, and was forced to eject over North Vietnam while flying his 90th combat mission on January 18, 1968. 

On his last mission, Lt. Smith was credited with shooting down a MIG-17 in aerial combat before his aircraft was shot down. He was immediately captured and taken as a Prisoner of War and spent the next 1,882 days in captivity before being released during Operation Homecoming on March 14, 1973. 

After recovering from his injuries at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, Capt. Smith left active duty on September 4, 1973, served in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard for a year, and then left the reserves in 1976. 

In 1999 Wayne Smith retired from MidAmerica Energy as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Generation. Earlier, he was President and Chief Operating Officer of BF Goodrich Chemicals and prior to that he was Chief Executive of BOC Gases for the U.S., Canada, and South America. He began his business career with Air Products and Chemicals, where he was appointed to a number of executive assignments over a 16-year period. He was a pilot flying Boeing 727s for Eastern Airlines for a short time before becoming a corporate executive. 

Wayne is married to Lois A. Bolin, Ph.D., of Naples, Florida. He has two children and two grandchildren, who also reside in Naples.

Military Service Summary:
• U.S. Air Force Academy 1961-1965
• U.S. Air Force 1965-1973
• Pennsylvania Air National Guard 1973-1974
• U.S. Air Force Reserve 1974-1976
• Cold War 1965-1976
• Vietnam War 1967-1973 (POW)

His military honors include two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Bronze Stars, seven Air Medals, and the Purple Heart. 

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