It always amazes me when I see a picture of a brotha on the front of the Des Moines Register's website and it's not an athlete or the President. It is a VERY rare occurrence so when it happens, I'm curios to know what he did to get so lucky. Too bad it was unfortunate news in this instance.
I never realized that any of the Tuskegee Airmen were from Iowa. However, I should have known better based on the law of averages. Afterall, Des Moines was home to Fort Des Moines which was the U.S. Army's first officer candidate class for African American men in 1917. Iowa does have more Black history than people give it credit for.
This picture was taken in 2002 after he was being photographed with the plane after a ceremony honoring seven Tuskegee Airmen at the Iowa Air National Guard base. I'm mad that that event didn't get hardly any pub. I definitely would have been there. I don't remmber hearing anything about that even, but I bet whatever latest rock band was coming to Wells Fargo that year was all over the news.
Smith actually grew up in Des Moines and flew over 133 combat missions with the Airmen. He would later retire in 1947 and earn his engineering degree right here in Iowa (more specifically at the University of Iowa, but we won't hold that against him).
There was a little buzz a couple of years ago that the Des Moines airport board had considered renaming the Des Moines International Airport after Smith. They need to go ahead and make that happen. Once a Tuskegee Airman...always a Tuskegee Airman and he is certainly worthy of such an honor. It's just too bad he won't be around to see it happen if they do finally come to their senses and rename it.
Rest in peace, Captain Smith.