Originally Published: November 10, 2015 7:06 p.m.
City of Residence: Prescott Valley
Branch of Service: U.S. Navy
Dates of Service: 27 years
Rank: Master chief petty officer
Dale Smith served in the U.S. Navy for 27 years in the air traffic control profession, attaining the rank of master chief petty officer.
Making a career in the military service requires the full support of the family. Smith was fortunate in that every overseas assignment allowed his family to accompany him - which included a two-year honeymoon on the island of Guam. His next assignment was at the Naval Air Station in Fallon, Nevada, where pilots honed their skills in ordnance delivery.
The next assignment was two years in Italy (Sicily), where they lived in the shadow of the active volcano, Mt. Etna. From there, it was back to the United States for three more years at Fallon, Nevada. The Navy had established a two-year college program for mid-managers. He was selected to attend a junior college in Corpus Christi, Texas. Next assignment was overseas to Japan, where he was assigned to the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Midway. While at sea, his family got to experience the culture of the Orient.
Smith's most memorable and rewarding experience was on U.S.S. Midway on April 29-30, 1975, when the ship participated in the evacuation of South Vietnamese refugees from Saigon just prior to the Communists invading South Vietnam. One astonishing event was that of a Vietnamese pilot who flew his family of seven aboard Midway in a two-place Cessna l-19. That aircraft is now on display at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. Check online for Operation Frequent Wind for more details of this very important event.
From there, Smith was assigned to the Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island, Washington, where he finished his Naval career as the air traffic control master chief.
His awards included the Naval Unit Commendation, Navy Battle "E," Good Conduct Award (6), National Defense award, Armed Forces Expedition Medal, Humanitarian Service Award, Sea Service Deployment Award, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry and the Vietnam Service Award.
The retired MCPO and his wife live in Prescott Valley.