Born into a military family at West Point in 1934, Smith travelled extensively as an “Army brat”. ON 7 December 1941, he was on the way to Sunday School in the back on an Army truck. At 7:50 AM that fateful morning, the truck was stopped as it approached the main gate of an Army post near Hickam Field. Six-year-old Perry McCoy Smith Jr. witnessed the attack on Hawaii as the truck raced around Honolulu returning the children to their homes. It was Smith’s first experience with aviation—in this case, Japanese warplanes.
A retired major general, Smith served for 30 years in the U. S. Air Force. During his career he had a number of leadership experiences, including command of the F-15 fighter wing at Bitburg, Germany where he provided leadership to 4000 personnel. Later, he served as the top Air Force planner and as the commandant of the National War College.
Smith’s total number of flying hours as a pilot (mostly in fighter aircraft: F-84, F-100, F-4 and F-15). is 3400 He flew 180 combat missions in the F-4D aircraft over North Vietnam and Laos during the Vietnam War. He was a member of the following fighter squadrons, 10th, 615th, 612th, 555thand the following fighter wings. 50th, 401st, 432ndand 36th. Smith is the recipient of two distinguished flying crosses, ten air medals and the bronze star. Other awards include the distinguished service medal, defense distinguished service medal and two legions of merit.
A graduate of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, he later earned his Ph.D. in International Relations from Columbia University. At West Point, he played on the varsity lacrosse team—earning All American honors (second team) his senior year.
Smith’s published books include Rules and Tools for Leaders, Assignment Pentagon, and Courage, Compassion, Marine: The Unique Story of Jimmie Dyess. The latter book is a biography of Smith’s father in law--the only person to have earned America's two highest awards for heroism, the Medal of Honor and the Carnegie Medal.
With more than 350,000 copies in print, Rules and Tools for Leaders, is his most popular book list. Assignment Pentagon is a substantive guide on how to deal with and operate in the Pentagon.
Since 2015 Smith and videographer Mark Albertin have produced four DVDs: Twice a Hero: The Jimmie Dyess Story. When Duty Calls: The Life and Legacy of Don Hollered. Dr. Hervey Cleckley: A Man for All Seasons. and Flying Combat with the Triple Nickel.
In 2011, The General Perry Smith Parkway near the Augusta Regional Airport was dedicated. Smith received this honor largely because of his fund-raising efforts in the Augusta area.
IN 1959 Smith married the talented Connor Cleckley Dyess, the daughter of Marine Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Dyess. Connor was eight years old when her father was killed in the Marshall Islands in Febraury,1944. The Smith’s have two children, McCoy and Serena, and four grandchildren, Dyess, Porter, Perry IV and Jacob.