Skiatook World War II Veteran Remembered On Anniversary Of D-Day

Wednesday, June 6th 2012, 1:07 pm
By: Craig Day

A group of World War II veterans flew out of Oklahoma City today on an Honor Flight to see the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.

A war hero from Oklahoma who recently died, got to go on one of those flights in 2010.

Wednesday, he went on a special flight of a different kind.

The memorial service for Lt. Col. Charles Lee Smith started with a rendition of "The thunderbolt March" composed by his son, a retired music educator.

Jeffrey Smith lost his dad May 30th at the age of 88.

"[He was] funny, patriotic and caring."

Lee Smith was also courageous.

Ever since he was hoisted on his dad's shoulders to see famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, Lee Smith wanted to be a pilot.

He joined the Air Force at 18, and soon became one.

"He was flying the hottest fighter aircraft of his day when he was 19 years old" Jeffrey Smith said. "I think back at what I was doing at 19 years old, and I'm just in awe."

Lee Smith flew 96 missions over France in his P-47 Thunderbolt fighter, earning the distinguished flying cross, 19 air medals and other awards for his service.

"Integrity, Lord. Honesty, faithfulness, patriotism for his country, love of his family," Jeffrey Smith described his dad.

As Taps were played, and as family and friends watched the flag ceremony, one final tribute to Lee Smith was yet to come.

Smith's cremated remains were taken aboard a plane.

Everyone watched in anticipation as it lifted off the runway in his hometown of Skiatook.

The fact that it was held on the anniversary of D-Day, the largest amphibious invasion in world history, makes it all the more special.

"Sixty-eight years ago he was out defending our freedom, along with many thousands of others," Jeffrey Smith said.

Once in the air, Lee Smiths' ashes were released from the sky as a final goodbye.

A fitting tribute to a man who loved to fly and loved his country.

"I think he'd feel happy," Jeffrey Smith said. "It's not a funeral. It's not a memorial service. It's a going home ceremony."

Smith was also a part of the D-Day invasion.

He returned to Tulsa and served in the Oklahoma Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserves.