After OCS graduation I was sent to Amarillo AFB, TX to attend The Supply Officers Course. At the same time I began my campaign to return to my former career as a weather forecaster. That fight would last nearly two years. After completing the supply officers’ course I was assigned to Scott AFB, IL as the housing supply officer. Fortunately Scott AFB was also headquarters for Air Weather Service. This made my lobbying job much easier and within two years I was reassigned to the base weather station. I became the executive officer and remained there until I was transferred in 1966.
On a personal note Jean and I were blessed with the birth of our third child David in 1963. It seems the OCS prophecy had come true. We now had the new car and the baby. From June of 1966 until June of 1968 I attended the University of Illinois. The plan was to get my degree in Mathematics. Unfortunately higher math was not my strong suit. I did however get a good dose of the Antiwar movement witnessing frequent campus demonstrations.
I was sent to Vietnam in July of 1968. Because of my former enlisted experience, forecasting at the Tropical Weather Center, I was assigned as the Night Supervisor of The Southeast Asia Forecast Center in Saigon. Our responsibilities included forecast support for all the military and other government operations in Southeast Asia. I was awarded the Bronze Star for my service.
When I returned from Vietnam I was assigned to 172nd Infantry Brigade at Fort Richardson, AK just outside Anchorage. My detachment provided weather support and acted as liaison between Army and Air Force units. Over the next seven years we deployed with Army units on their field exercises providing Army commanders with front line real time weather support.
Among the most memorable exercises were two trips to the Arctic ice pack North of Point Barrow in support of Army airborne operations. In May of 1970 I was selected for regular officer. That was followed by promotion to Major in October of 1972. Not wanting to leave Alaska I extended my tour and then in June of 1975 decided to retire.
Jean and I purchased our first home in Eagle River, AK in 1974. Upon retirement Jean continued working in the retail world while I became a Real Estate Broker. About this time the TransAlaska Pipeline was being built and the real estate market was hot. In 1978 I started Smoot Construction Inc. and began building homes. Soon after Jean left her job to join the company. For the next several years we built single-family homes.
In 1984 I was elected President of the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce and served for two years. I also was a board member for the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce during the same time. Jean and I were able to do a lot of traveling around the state while attending various chamber functions.
Also, during this time we took part in local politics working on the reelection committee for our local State Senator. I served as the campaign finance chairman during his unsuccessful run for governor. As the eighties were ending the real estate market cooled so we closed our company and returned to the private sector.
In 1988 I returned to Alaska Pacific University to complete my education receiving a BA in Management Science in 1990.
We began traveling in the nineties and in 1998 we spent six weeks on a road trip to the lower 48 returning just in time for the first snow. One morning over coffee, while watching the snowfall, we asked ourselves why we are still doing winters in Alaska? Our kids were grown and we had retired, so why sit and look at snow?
Within weeks we had purchased a new 36 foot Winnebago, put our house up for lease, and since May of 1999 have been traveling, spending summers in Alaska and winters in South Texas. After 48 years of married bliss, it seems we have come full circle, living on the road just like we did in 1954 when we departed on our first Air Force assignment.