by KENS 5 Staff
Posted on March 16, 2011 at 2:45 PM
SAN ANTONIO — A Texas man who was key to saving thousands of lives in Vietnam, has died. Retired Army Major General Homer D. Smith, originally from Breckenridge, Texas, passed away in San Antonio on March 6. He was 89.
Smith, who was often referred to as the ‘last soldier’ to leave Saigon, participated in WW II, the Korean War, and served two tours of duty during the Vietnam War. It was during his second tour that Smith was in charge of planning and execution of “Operation Frequent Wind” and “Operation Baby-Lift”. “Frequent Wind” facilitated the evacuation of 7,500 South Vietnamese, as well as U.S. Embassy personnel and military, from Saigon as the North Vietnamese entered in 1975. “Baby Lift” was responsible for the evacuation of ethnically-mixed Vietnamese orphan’s prior to the fall of Saigon.
Smith told the story of those final days in the Discovery channel productions. “Fall of Saigon” and “Operation Baby-Lift”.
During the course of his military career, Smith received the Distinguished Service Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Legion of Merit and the Air Medal, among other honors.
The Smith family will hold funeral services at 9 a.m. Thursday, March 17 at the Dodd Field Chapel at the Fort Sam Cemetery. Grave-side service will begin at 10:30 a.m., followed by a reception at the old Fort Sam Houston Officers Club, now known as the Lincoln Housing Community Center.
To see photos of the general and his career go to the Ret. Major General Homer Smith’s memorial Facebook page.