Wilford S. Smith
Master Sergeant
U. S. A. F.
Desert Storm
Aircraft Armament Systems

Wilford was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana, the youngest of ten children from two marriages. His parents were Andrew and Lydia Thomas Smith. "It wasn't like we were lonely because there were so many of us," he quips of his childhood. Wilford loved playing football as a youngster. He spent two summers with his maternal grandfather, Neaton Thomas, a minister in Kentwood, Louisiana. His father worked in a box factory at Crown-Zellerbach, while his mother was a beautician. Wilford pitched in helped with family chores. He cleaned his mother's beauty shop each day after school, learned to cook after his older sisters left home, and helped his father with carpentry and yard work in the neighborhood. Wilford played football and ran track at Bogalusa High School, where he graduated in 1980. He attended Sullivan Vocational School and started a small air conditioning/refrigeration business in Bogalusa. He lived for several months in California with his older sister and brother-in-law, Patricia and John Clemmons, then entered the Air Force in January of 1983. Wilford took basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. He was cross-trained in weaponry maintenance for several types of aircraft, including the B-52 and F-16, as well as helicopters. He was also trained in computers at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. Wilford spent much of his military career at Barksdale Air Force Base. He served a year's tour in Kunson, Korea, then returned to Barksdale as supervisor of a weapon loading crew. In 1990 he was sent to Castle Air Force Base near Atwater, California. In 1994 he returned to Barksdale where he worked as a shift supervisor. He also taught weapons classes and evaluated performances of weapons crews. In 1997 Wilford cross-trained again, this time in communications and was assigned as superintendent of tactical telephone switch for the 8th Air Force. Sent to the Middle East for Desert Shield/Desert Storm, he recalls 16-hour workdays as a load crew team chief. "It was physical stress, mental stress," he says of the operation. After hostilities ended Wilford returned to Barksdale, where he remained until his retirement on February 28, 2003. He now works for Computer Science Corporation as a network and systems administrator. He married Erica Lindsey on July 11, 1987. They have two children.