SAN DIEGO – On Sunday, February 17, World War II veteran Arthur Smith passed away as he was surrounded by his family. Arthur was 95 years old and the inspiration for his son David Smith to start Honor Flight San Diego in 2010.
Arthur served with the United States Marine Corps from 1942 to 1948. During World War II, he was assigned to the First Provisional Marine Brigade and was part of the U.S. invasion to take back the Island of Guam. With U.S. planes strafing the beaches and shells from U.S. support ships overhead, Arthur was on a Higgins Boat and landed on the beach under enemy fire at Agat, Guam.
In 2010, David Smith took his father on a Lone Eagle flight operated by the Honor Flight Network to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials built for his service and sacrifice. The trip was so profoud for both of them that Dave Smith wanted to volunteer for the San Diego hub. He learned there was no San Diego hub and told the Honor Flight Network, “there will be.” Later that year, Dave Smith started the nonprofit known today as Honor Flight San Diego.
“Arthur Smith was the reason we exist today and the reason we have been able to fly over 1,300 Southern California WWII and Korea War veterans to Washington, D.C.,” said Julie Brightwell Chairman of Honor Flight San Diego. “He will be deeply missed by the entire Honor Flight community.”
After returning from the war, Arthur spent his life giving back and helping others in the community. From getting his hands dirty helping to paint, to supporting youth YMCA and community theater to being a Distinguished Toastmaster. He gave hundreds of hours to public speaking engagements for Honor Flight San Diego to get his brothers and sisters on the flight and to help generate donations.
Cards may be sent to the Smith family at 9423 Keck Court, San Diego, CA 92129 and in lieu of flowers, donations are being accepted in Arthur’s name at: www.honorflightsandiego.org. A public memorial service will be held in upcoming weeks in San Diego and his final resting place will be in Michigan.
The next flight for Honor Flight San Diego is May 3-5, 2019 as they are expected to take 80 WWII and Korea War veterans on their “Tour of Honor”. For more information about Honor Flight San Diego or to get a WWII or Korea War veteran on the trip, go to: www.honorflightsandiego.org.