Distinguished Flying Cross for B-17 Pilot

The Air Force awarded 87-year-old Samuel Smith, a former Army Air Forces second lieutenant who flew the B-17 during World War II, a much-belated Distinguished Flying Cross. Maj. Gen. Tim Zadalis, Air Education and Training Command’s director of intelligence, presented Smith with the cross during an Aug. 24 ceremony at JBSA-Randolph, Tex. Smith’s B-17 was returning to RAF Molesworth, England, after a bombing mission over Hopston, Germany on March 1, 1945. Anti-aircraft fire had damaged the bomber’s undercarriage and landing gear. Upon landing, Smith was able to make a hard right turn with the aircraft to clear the runway for approaching aircraft. That act is credited with saving his crew members and crews on other returning bombers, according to Randolph’s Aug. 29 release. Smith thanked his ground crew for their work on his aircraft all those years ago. “I owe them a tremendous amount,” he said. He flew 24 missions over Germany during the war while assigned to the 360th Bombardment Squadron. (Randolph report by SSgt. Clinton Atkins)