39th Bomb Group (VH)

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1st Lt Ernest D. Smith, Jr.
Radar Observer

1st Lt Ernest D. Smith, Jr
Radar Observer "Renegade"
Ernest D. Smith, Jr. was born April 13, 1922 in Manchester, CT.

He enlisted in the Regular Army on 24 October 1942 entering from Montgomery, AL. He was resident of Hartford County, CT. At the time of his enlistment he was a student with 1 1/2 years of college.

He recieved his commission on 12 Aug 1944. He completed Radar Observer Training at AFTS Langley Field, VA.

Ernest flew as Radar Observer with Crew 21 on "Two Passes and a Crap" and with Replacement" Crew 21 on "Renegade". Which was made up of members of the original crew who continued to fly after their ditching on 14 May 1945 - Nagoya Mission and replacements for those who were killed or chose not to continue flying. Smith was not on the Nagoya mission - he was in the hospital on Guam having a cyst removed from his tailbone - fortunate for him - his replacement was killed when the plane hit the water.

During his WWII service he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Unit Citation with 1 Oak Left Cluster, the American Campaign Medal, The Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon with bronze service star, and the WWII Victory Medal.

He departed the Marianas for the US on 27 Oct 1945, arriving 1 Nov. 1945 and was discharged from active duty 7 Dec 1945 at Fort Devens, MA.

After discharge he joined the Hartford Electric Light Co. "Ernie" met and married his wife Jean. They have five grown children, 12 grandchildren (one deceased) and 6 great grandchildren.

In the early 50s he entered with his parents into a family motel business in Vermont.

He was invited to join the Vermont Air National Guard and enjoyed the time he spent there.

Around 1960 he and his family were off to Florida where Ernie worked at Pratt & Whitney Research & Development. This was the heyday of NASA. While in Florida his fifth child was born.

They moved to British Columbia, Canada in 1967. Ernie was stationary engineer at what was then the largest lumber mill in the world.

Ernie Smith "father of the bride" escorting
his daughter (#3) at her wedding in 1995.
Photo Courtesy of Jean Smith
Click to photo enlarge

Ernie also had a small hobby ranch where he played cowboy until his retirement.

He built a small home in Houston (B.C.). Ernie and Jean fished and traveled in their small motor home until his health failed him.

Ernie enjoyed fishing, hunting, woodworking and he was an avid ham radio operator. Computers also were another hobby. He was never boring!

Ernest D. Smith, Jr. passed away 27 March 1996 at his home in Houston, B.C., Canada.

Original Crew 21 Main Page
Replacement Crew 21 Main Page
61st Squadron Crew Index
Sources: Source: Jean Smith, widow of Ernest D. Smith; 39th BG Assoc Archives