LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The people who served our country during World War II are known as “the greatest generation,” and eight veterans from that time period took part in Honor Flight Bluegrass last week.
Including World War II veteran, Lee Smith. While his time in the service didn’t go as planned, his dedication to the military had led him on an adventurous path.
In 1943, at 19 years old, Smith decided it was his time to enlist.
“Nineteen years old, 20 years old, you are invincible,” Smith said. “It isn’t gonna happen to you, it’s gonna happen to the guy next door.”
Smith chose the Army Air Corps. He could recall taking his first plane ride at just eight years old, and fell in love.
“I wasn’t really mad at anybody, but I wanted to fly planes,” he said.
The United States had already been fighting in World War II for about two years.
“I knew the war was going on if I didn’t, I would have been drafted maybe handed a rifle and told the enemy is that way,” Smith said.
Wanting to be like his older brother, a Navy Pilot who was stationed in South Pacific, flying made the most sense.
“Well things don’t always go the way you want them,” Smith said. “I got scarlet fever and I was in the Army hospital for about five weeks.”
By the time Smith was released, his class already shipped off to their assignments.
Smith bounced from base to base in Texas, Wisconsin and Illinois. Until landing in Boca Raton, Florida, in Radio Detection and Ranging School, also known as radar.
“I was trained what was known as counter measures, now it’s electronic warfare, but at the time it was to defeat