Master Sergeant (Ret.) Bernard Smith enlisted in the U.S. Air Force shortly after graduating high school in 1958. As soon as the U.S. was getting involved with Vietnam, he was volunteering to go. So the Air Force sent him … twice. While there he did everything from working on transit aircraft to working in the mortuary because there was a shortage of personnel. “It wasn’t the most pleasant job, but it was in a way rewarding because if I was laying there somewhere, I would want someone to bring me home,” Smith said. After Vietnam, he was assigned to Europe, where he competed on a few Air Force sports teams. He then applied to become a recruiter and headed to Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, where he worked until his retirement in 1981.
Throughout his career, whenever he saw a need, he did what he could to help. He was always involved in humanitarian aid, starting up collections for local orphanages, finding random families in the countryside in need and helping repair their homes. “I would get the guys together and we would go out there are repaint and put windows in,” he said. “It was like Habitat for Humanity, we were doing it before it was popular. I enjoyed doing that kind of stuff.”