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Colonel Thurman Smith

March 5, 1918 – March 2, 2013

Lyons – Thurman “T” Smith, 94, went home to be with his Lord and Savior on March 2, 2013. Thurman was laid to rest in Crossroads Cemetery, Pittsburg, TX., Friday, March 8, 2013, where his beloved wife, Olene, was buried in 2007. Several generations of Smiths including Civil War veterans are buried there. A memorial service will be Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm at Canyon Bible Fellowship, 446 Cedar St. Lyons.

Thurman was born March 5, 1918 in the community of Crossroads, Camp County, Texas to William Thomas and Leona Talley Smith. Thurman was raised in a Christian home, trusted Jesus as his Savior at an early age, and was baptized at Crossroads Baptist Church. He attended Crossroads School and graduated from Pittsburg High School in 1936. Thurman graduated from East Texas State Teachers College in 1940 with a B.S. in education.

Following his graduation, Thurman taught at Greenwood, Pittsburg High School and Atlanta High School. In August 1942, while Thurman was serving as assistant football coach (line coach) as Pittsburg High School, Atlanta High School’s Head Coach was called into military service. Atlanta hired Thurman to step in on short notice as Atlanta’s head football coach. Thurman coached the opening game of the season (a 0-0 tie against McLeod) when Thurman was called to report to Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet training. With a smile on his face, Thurman spent the rest of his life telling friends that he was the only “undefeated” head coach in the history of Atlanta High School football.

Thurman entered Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet training in September 1942 and retired from the United States Air Force as a Colonel in April 1966. While command pilot qualified in many USAF aircraft, most of his hours were in the A-20, A-26, KC-97 and KC-135. His permanent duty station assignments included Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, England, Washington D.C., Japan, South Korea, Colorado, Alabama, Florida, California and Michigan.

On Christmas Day, December 1944, then Captain Smith led a flight of A-26 invaders to attack the communications center of Munstereifel, Germany, directly in the path of the U.S. Ninth Army. On the second bombing run a burst of heavy flak ripped through the fuselage of his lead aircraft and struck him in the shoulder. Despite his debilitating injury and crippled aircraft, he remained in the target area twenty-five minutes to make four more runs over the heavily defended bomb target and blanket it with bomb bursts. For his actions on this day he was awarded the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest combat award for valor. Upon his retirement Colonel Smith had been presented with twenty personal awards and decorations to include the Silver Star, Order of the Purple Heart and nine Air Medals with valor.

After retiring from the Air Force, Thurman settled on his ranch near Lyons, where he raised cattle, sheep and horses. He initially planned to resume pursuing his dream of becoming a lawyer, which had been put on hold since 1942. But circumstances steered him in another career direction and he eventually became a real estate broker, establishing Smith and Jungwirth Realty, Inc. He was active in that business until the age of 90.

Thurman was committed to Canyon Baptist Church in Lyons, where he was a member for 47 years. He taught adult Sunday School and served numerous terms on the Board of Elders. His service to the Lord expanded to include the Gideons International where he distributed Bibles, represented the Gideons as a speaker in churches, and held several offices of leadership in the East Linn Camp. Colonel Smith was a member of The American Legion, Mill City-Gates Post, and added color to their meetings with some first hand accounts of combat in WWII.

Another of Thurman’s spheres of influence was the Grange. He held the highest degree of membership, served as Master of Santiam Valley Grange, held offices at the county level and represented the Oregon State Grange as a lobbyist to the Oregon State Legislature. Thurman’s expertise in the real estate industry was valuable to the Linn County Board of Commissioners so that they kept him on the Linn County Planning Commission as long as they could (over 20 years). He was a firm believer in continuing education and personal development. He was involved in Stayton Toastmasters Club where he honed his public speaking ability, held leadership positions and competed in speech contests into his 80’s. He was fond of saying, “I’m not getting older, I’m getting better. But I’ll admit that I’ve been getting better for so long that I’m approaching magnificent.”

Thurman was preceded in death by his wife of sixty-four years Olene Arnold Smith, parents: Willie and Leona Smith, sister: Lecie Smith, brothers: Oddis Smith, Valton Smith and twin brother: Herman Smith. Those left to cherish Thurman’s memory are son: Colonel Randall Smith and daughter-in-law Donna of White Oak, TX.; daughter: Sharon McDowell of San Diego, CA.; son: Reverend Mark Smith and daughter-in-law Janice of Lyons; 9 – grandchildren; 4 – great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. Serving the family, North Santiam Funeral Service, Stayton.

 


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