Jim visited the Naval Academy as an eight-year-old and had his picture taken in front of Tecumseh. Despite being the son of an Army colonel, he announced that he wanted to be the captain of a Naval ship. Interestingly enough, at service selection night, he went Marine Air.
Jim began flight training in April 1971 in Pensacola, after completing The Basic School at Quantico. He received his wings in Kingsville, Texas in October 1972. His first assignment was F-4 squadron VMFA 235 in Kaneohe, Hawaii. He was selected for the Olmsted Scholar Program, class of 1975, and spent two years at the Institut d’Etude Politiques in Grenoble, France. Upon his return, he was deployed for a year to Iwakuni, Japan. After attending Amphibious Warfare School in 1978-9, he spent three years in Beaufort with VMFA 122 and 312, deploying to Iwakuni as the Operations Officer of VMFA 312. In January 1983, he attended the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk. In August 1983, he was assigned to MAWTS-1 in Yuma, Arizona. At the time of his death in May 1984, he was serving as the Operations Officer of MAWTS-1.
Jim married Susan Garnett in September, 1970, in Ft. Riley, Kansas. They had two daughters, Melissa Kristine Smee Walker and Sarah “Gayle” Smee Minden. Melissa lives in Nashville with her husband Tim, and has three children: James Lawton, Katherine Alexandra, and Margaret Susan. Gayle lives in Denver with her husband, Vaun, and has one child: Zoe Elizabeth. Susan Smee lives in Burke, Virginia. We miss Jim every day. (Susan Smee)
Updated: October 28, 2018
Curator: Ed Moore