Donald Clayton SmithFirst Lieutenant
345TH TRP CARRIER SQDN, 314TH TCW, 13TH AF
United States Air Force
27 August 1937 - 20 December 1965
Mc Camey, Texas
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The database page for Donald Clayton Smith
Donald grew up in the West Texas town of McCamey. It is primarily an oil field town. He was a pilot on a C-130E and the plane went down under hostile conditions in South Vietnam. No one on the plane survived. He is remembered by his community and by the Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Midland, Texas.
At our recent "Last Dustoff" dedication, a gentlemen came up to me as I was visiting with someone else and he asked me if I had a picture for Lt. Smith from McCamey for our site and I told him I did not and he said he would get one to me. It was an emotional moment for him. Before I could excuse myself to talk with him further, he was gone. The Vietnam War still evokes strong emotions some three and a half decades later. For Lt. Smith it was 39 years ago that he was lost. May his sacrifice never be forgotten.
From a PBVVM representative,
14 Jan 2006
Donald's sister, Sue Gryder of Logo Vista, Texas send me the pictures for his tribute on The Virtual Wall.
From a PBVVM representative,
I was a copilot in Don's squadron at Dyess AFB and flew with him on a trip to pick up the remains of a crashed F-105 at George AFB. He was a really good pilot. Then he and I and our entire squadron went PCS to CCK at Taichung, Taiwan. We did most of our flying out of a forward base at Nha Trang, RVN. One evening he and his crew were lounging in our Quanset hut after a day of hard flying to several bases up and down Vietnam. He was summoned to go back out and fly a night mission to a beleagured Army post, Tuy Hoa. No runway lights there - just 5 gallon flare cans.
Cans of burning fuel every 300 feet along one side of the runway. They missed their first approach. On their second approach they hit the ground. I was good friends with the entire crew for about a year. It was a terrible loss for no reason. Two days later we had a small service at the flight line. A chaplain read the 23rd Psalm. We sang the Air Force hymn, prayed the Lord's prayer, and went to fly our airplanes. The report of the crash details is second-hand from the squadron investigators. I believe it is accurate.
From a pilot in the same squadron,
REMEMBEREDby his sister and brother,
A Note from The Virtual WallOn 20 Dec 1965 five men died in the crash of a C-130E (tail number 62-01843) from the 345th Troop Carrier Squadron :
The 345th Troop Carrier Squadron was redesignated during the Vietnam period, becoming the 345th Tactical Airlift Squadron.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 20 Nov 2004
Last updated 08/10/2009