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First Name: Jacob

Last Name: Smart

Birthplace: Ridgeland, SC, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Edward

Date of Birth: 31 May 1909

Date of Death: 12 November 2006

Rank: General

Years Served: 1931-1966
Jacob Edward Smart

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1931

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Jacob Edward Smart
General, U.S. Air Force

Jacob Edward Smart was born on 31 May 1909 in Ridgeland, SC. The son of a railroad conductor, he was educated in the public schools of South Carolina and Georgia, and at Marion Military Institute in Marion, AL. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1931 and entered flight training with the U.S. Army Air Corps and later became a flying instructor.

When the U.S. entered World War II, Smart (a Colonel at that time) was Chief of Staff for Flight Training at Air Force Headquarters in Washington, DC. He joined the Air Corps Advisory Council in July 1942, serving on the staff of General "Hap" Arnold, Chief of Staff of the Army Air Force. In this position, he was involved with the planning of the invasion of Europe and participated in the meeting between U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Casablanca, Morocco in 1943.

Smart was assigned to 9th Bomber Command in the Middle East in 1943. He was the architect of Operation Tidal Wave, in which 178 B-24 Liberator heavy bombers from five bombardment Groups of the 9th Army Air Force flew a 2,400-mile round trip from bases near Benghazi in Libya to perform a low-level bombing raid on the oil refineries at Ploie┼čti, Romania, on 1 August 1943. Nearly 40% of the oil plant was destroyed, but 55 of the American planes were lost and another 50 severely damaged. He received the Distinguished Service Medal; five other airmen received the Medal of Honor, the most for any single military action. Despite its success, the plant was repaired and back to its original operating capacity within a week.

He attended the Army-Navy Staff College, graduating in February 1944. He then joined the 15th Air Force in the Mediterranean Theater, commanding the 97th Bomb Group in Italy. Despite his knowledge of top secret issues, such as plans for the Normandy invasion, he was allowed to fly missions over enemy territory. During his 29th mission on 10 May 1944, Smart was flying a B-17 Flying Fortress on a mission to bomb aircraft factories near Wiener Neustadt, Austria. The aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and exploded. Although Smart was thrown from the wreck in mid-air, he managed to open his parachute despite the wounds he received from the explosion. He landed and was immediately captured by the Germans and held as a Prisoner of War until freed by General George S. Patton's Army in April 1945. His captors knew he was important and did their best to extract secrets from him, but Smart was able to evade all their questions.

Upon his repatriation to the U.S., he returned to duty as a top aide to General Arnold, continuing as the U.S. Air Force was formed in 1947. He graduated from the National War College in June 1950, and Commanded 32nd Air Division at Stewart Air Force Base in New York. He was later Vice Commander of Eastern Air Defense Force.

During the Korean War, Smart served as Deputy for Operations in the Far East Air Force where he showed his skill as a strategist. He also flew several sorties and was injured. He returned to Washington in June 1955 as Assistant Vice Chief of Staff at U.S. Air Force Headquarters. He became commander of the Twelfth Air Force, Tactical Air Command, in September 1959. In January 1960 he became Vice Commander of Tactical Air Command based at Langley Air Force Base. He served as Commander U.S. Forces in Japan from August 1961; and then as Commander of the Pacific Air Forces in Honolulu from August 1963.

Smart was promoted to the four-star rank of General on 5 June 1963. He became Deputy Commander of the U.S. European Command in July 1964.

General Smart retired from the Air Force in July 1966.

Medals and Awards

Distinguished Service Cross

Air Force Distinguished Service Medal

Legion of Merit

Distinguished Flying Cross

Air Medal (4 Awards)

Smart was also rated as a Command Pilot.

In Retirement

Following his retirement, Smart served as an administrator with NASA for several years; finally, he returned to live in Ridgeland, SC.

Death and Burial

General Jacob Edward Smart died in his sleep from congestive heart failure at the age of 97 on Sunday, 12 November 2006. He is buried at Ridgeland Cemetery in Ridgeland, SC.

He was divorced in 1946. He had four children; three daughters, one surviving, and a son, who also survives.

Honoree ID: 841   Created by: MHOH




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