Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States

"No One Does More for Veterans"

Karl W. Richter Memorial Post


Korat, Thailand




John Joseph Smith III

28 March 1939 – 31 July 2013

JJ Smith hailed from Mobile, Alabama. His dad was a cop and when JJ was young he worked as a shipyard welder. Later he enlisted in the US Air Force and completed a 20 plus year career as a tactical aircraft maintenance technician. He served in Thailand, Vietnam, and other places and retired with the rank of TSGT E6. He was proud of being a skilled and proficient crew chief on F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bombers. After retirement he lived for many years in Thailand and was active in the VFW. He was well known as a hard headed, ornery, cross grained son of a gun. Mild language used here respectfully and intentionally, and I am sure he would have agreed with this description.·

The funeral was held on August 3, 2013 at Wat Nong Chabok in Korat.

Some words from an old friend of his: Gordy

Also some from another friend: Allen

This is an email that a 100 mission F105 pilot sent to all members of the "Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association" which JJ was one of the very few non pilot members:

Howdy, sad to relate that the best Thud crewchief in the world has passed.· JJ Smith, who I met at Nellis and worked with at Takhli, Nellis again, then Korat and George, died yesterday in the military hospital at Korat.

JJ would go to any lengths to make sure his jet came back from combat sorties.· He would replace all the oil in the Thud after each sortie, even thought the TOs said only refill any missing oil to a certain quantity.· He and his wife, Prasong, moved to Korat some years ago after he retired and he has been serving as guide to Thud aircrews who would make the trip to Korat.· He spoke fluent Thai and was a well-known visitor to the base, having contributed many things to the museum which has been built just across the street from the O Club.· I had the honor of giving him a ride in a G model at George before he retired.

After he had retired he came to my home in Apple Valley with a cardboard box and asked me to wait a week before opening it.· I did and found a complete Thud throttle quadrant inside.· He had stashed· it in the roof of the AMU 'just in case he needed it'.· We had seen the last Thud leave George a month earlier.· That throttle quadrant is now on display at the Louisiana Veteran's Hall of Honor in Baton Rouge.

He was a River Rat and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

Warm regards,

Gordy Jenkins

Received by email from Allen Leivdal·