This is a special episode for the podcast. That is because a special Vietnam Veteran will be guesting and he will be tell us about his forty year plus career of military service to our country. His name is Donald J. Smith of Lexington, South Carolina. He came to my attention when he got his hands on a copy of my book Vietnam Veteran Memoirs. It came about when I spoke to a group in Pensacola, Florida, his home town, and his sister was in attendance. She bought a copy of my book, gave it to her husband to read and he sent it on to Don in Lexington because we both share a history with Cobra gunships.
After a phone call or two, I was able to connect with Don for an interview and he laid out a great story. It all started in Vietnam for Don back in the early days of the mid 60’s. He was in the Air Force at the time and after his first tour in country he left the service to go back to school. While in college at Pensacola he heard about the US Army’s flight program. He signed up and after basic training, rotary wing flight school and the Cobra Transition Course at Hunter Army Airfield he found himself flying the first Cobras in Vietnam with the 4th Infantry Division’s 10th Cav in the central highlands.
Since he was one of the “pathfinders” of Cobra pilots in Vietnam it was only natural that he would be chosen to come back to Hunter Army Airbase and train new fledging Cobra pilots. He did that for over two years and then accepted a commission in the Armor branch and went to Germany. He came home, left active duty and then became a full time member of the South Carolina National Guard as a gunship pilot. He served there in numerous leadership positions in his Guard unit.
When he retired in 2002, he continued to serve his country with the L3 Communications organization as a specialized contractor to the military.
Don Smith is an excellent representative of that great Vietnam Veteran Generation. Sit back and enjoy his story.