Biography of Gut E. Smith

Lt. Col., USAAF and USAF, WWII, Korea, Vietnam

   Before I start, my dad, Ret. Lt. Colonel Gut E. Smith, was in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. He was a P-38 pilot during WWII in the Pacific. He was a pilot in Korea flying T-6’s and Vietnam flying C-123’s. He was shot down in WWII but was able to make it back to within a few miles of the base. He had two tours in Korea and one tour of Vietnam. This does not include the several classified missions that he did.

   My dad was in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. There were a group of 4 pilots, my dad, my dad’s friend (Boshart), Lt. Gary Ware and another Lt. (they cannot remember his name) that shared an apartment in downtown Saigon. When the Tet first started which was the 29th January 1968 in the northern part of Vietnam. Fortunately, the southern part of Vietnam was on a different lunar calendar and the Tet did not start until the 30th of January 1968 in the southern part of Vietnam. When the Tet started in Saigon the NVC had a covert team that took the American Embassy in Saigon. My dad and his group were told to stay were they were in Saigon. After a lot of not knowing what was going to happen, they all decided to make a run for Tan Son Nhut Air base on their motorbikes. Once they reached Tan Son Nhut they took the Chapel as their home during Tet. We are not sure of the correct date but Tan Son Nhut was hit by the VC sometime during the first week of February. Before the Chapel was hit Lt. Ware and the other Lt. went back to their apartment to retrieve some clothes for they were to go on R & R to Hong Kong. They went back to Tan Son Nhut after a couple of days and found the Chapel had been destroyed.

   Right before the Chapel started taking mortar rounds my dad was in the latrine and had just walked out and laid down, which saved his life, when the first mortar hit the latrine? Unfortunately, my dad’s eyes were pelted with glass and he had a head injury. My dad knew that a Lt. Colonel was still in the Chapel. At this point the Chapel was engulfed in flames. My dad took blankets and soaked them in water and went in to find the LC. He found him and put a wet blanket on him and got him out of the Chapel. The LC ran from the scene and my dad did not get his name. About 30 minutes later the Chapel was leveled to the ground. The other unfortunate thing is the 19th Air Commandos were displaced to different parts of Vietnam after the Tet and my dad’s friend Boshart has pasted away. For this reason, I believe my dad did not get a medal for heroism.

   I am looking for help in finding someone who can verify and has knowledge of what took place the night of the Tan Son Nhut Chapel being destroyed. My dad is 85 years old and I would like to see him get the recognition that is due before he is gone.

   I also believe there are a lot of medals and commendations that he has not received and I am looking into finding out what they are. Any help here would be appreciated.

----- Don Smith

Email: desmith1 AT cfl.rr.com

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