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Heroic survival efforts earned Oklahoma City man the Airman's Medal

Thomas D. Smith III was one of 10 people on a C47 transport plane returning from assignment in Turkey when the plane broke apart flying over Greece.
by Ed Godfrey Published: July 7, 2013

Smith then crawled down the side of the mountain to get out of the clouds and to a ridge where he tied a parachute to his waist to use as a signal flag.

Smith waited and nearly froze on the mountain side before a C130 aircraft flying by spotted the orange parachute against the white snow.

Smith and three other survivors were rescued the next day. His actions were credited with saving the lives of the men.

Lt. Col. Smith was medically retired from the Air Force in 1975, but not before serving in the Vietnam War where he flew 128 combat missions as a fighter pilot.

He is a member of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association, nicknamed the River Rats, one of the most famous combat fighter pilot groups.

by Ed Godfrey
Copy Editor, Outdoors Editor, Rodeo, River Sports Reporter
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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