Korean war vet honored with medal decades after serving - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Korean war vet honored with medal decades after serving

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SPRING CITY, TN (WRCB) -

Retired Air Force Major Cecil Smith wears his badge of honor proudly Monday. He earned the medal, called the Distinguished Flying Cross, in 1951 while on a mission during the Korean War.

"I got orders straight out of flying school to go to Korea. Korea got cranked up about that time," says Smith.

Now the retired vet likes to sit on the porch of his Spring City home as he recalls his days in action. One day in particular sticks out: October 13, 1951, the day he earned this prestigious honor.

"I don't forget it. It's stayed in my memory ever since," recalls Smith.

On that night the B-26 bomber pilot flew over Korea looking for targets.

"We needed to look for trucks or look for steam out of an engine and freight train," says Smith.

He found a caravan of 12 supply trucks.

"I went ahead and dropped a few bombs on them," he says.

However, Smith didn't realize he was about to hit the mother-load.

"We could see [the truck] set this building on fire all of a sudden the whole valley lit up," Smith says.

A building holding what is believed to be the largest amount of ammo in the Korean war was on fire.

"All kinds of different ammo was going up in the air, exploding, lot of it was exploding on the ground, the building was burning like mad," says Smith.

Smith's actions earned him the third highest award of valor, but it was decades later before his daughter, Kim Brand, realized he never got it.

"Really, I just assumed he had it up in a trunk somewhere," says Brand.

Brand contacted the Air Force and on Father's Day weekend.

A Lt. Colonel and the Honor Guard from the Arnold Air Force base presented Smith his medal. It may have been decades late but to Smith it's better late than never.

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