Jack Coldwell Smith Jr. was born on Oct 16, 1935, in Temple, TX, to Jack and Anne White Smith. After growing up in Corpus Christi, TX, he graduated in 1954 from the Texas Military Institute in San Antonio. He entered West Point in 1955 with the Class of 1959.
While at West Point, Jack was active in the Ordnance Club, the Spanish Club, the Bugle Notes staff, the Pistol Club and the Rocket Society. He also served on the 3rd Battalion staff, 2nd Regiment in his First Class year.
Having lived all his life in Texas, Jack had never seen snow before. In those days plebes formed up by section and marched to class. One day, when he left the barracks to move out to the formation, it was snowing, and Jack wouldn't leave the barrack’s porch. "I'm not going out into that stuff," he said. Several classmates had to do some pleading to get Jack to move out.
It took a while to get Jack to smile, longer to get him to laugh, but once you had broken through the "shell," you had a friend for life!
Jack had a long and successful military career. Commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Infantry, he completed Airborne and Ranger training at Fort Benning, GA, and was subsequently assigned as a Platoon Leader in the 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, HI.
Following graduation from the Advanced course at Fort Benning, Jack served as a Company Commander, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, KY. From 1965-66, he served as an advisor to a Vietnamese Infantry battalion and was twice awarded the Bronze Star (one with "V" device for valor). In 1967, he attended Middlebury College in Vermont and earned a master’s in Spanish. He then assumed a faculty position at West Point in the Modern Languages Department specializing in Spanish.
From 1969-70, he attended New York University for advance studies in Latin American affairs. Following that assignment in 1971, Jack attended the Command and Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KS. He then served in the Republic of Korea as an Operations Officer in the 2nd Infantry Division. Jack was then assigned to Buenos Aires, Argentina, as the principal U.S. Army attaché from 1981-85. He was instrumental during the 1982 negotiations, which sought to terminate the Falkland Islands Conflict between the United Kingdom and Argentina, as well as to repatriate the prisoners of war from the conflict. Jack had extensive experience in Latin America, formulating policy regarding Latin American political-military affairs. One memory about which Jack spoke often took place during the Falklands War. His family had to leave their house in Argentina (guarded 24/7 by the Argentine Army) in the middle of the night and drive undetected to Montevideo, Uruguay. He had four kids and a case of Johnny Walker; all of the border guards were very happy that night! His last assignment was with the office of Joint Chiefs of Staff where he continued to formulate policy initiatives regarding U.S. National Security Interests in Latin America.
He retired home to Texas in 1987 and represented United Services Life Insurance Company helping military families manage their insurance affairs. He was a regular volunteer at Churches Touching Lives for Christ, a member of Temple Bible Church, and a lifelong frustrated golfer at Mill Creek Country Club. He was a great friend to many and often welcomed young soldiers at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners at home. He always put his family in front of everything he did.
Jack died Oct 15, 2007. He is interred at the United States Military Academy Cemetery at West Point, NY.
Jack is survived by his beloved wife of 44 years, Gail Dorothy Smith of Salado, four children—Dr. Jack C. Smith III and wife, Kendra, of Lubbock, TX; Dr. Donald M. Smith and wife, Tami, of Falmouth, MA; Douglas C. Smith and wife, Tia, of Seattle, WA; and Amy Anne White Pickett and husband, Don, of Paradise Valley, AZ—and twelve grandchildren. God Bless, Jack. Well Done, Be Thou at Peace!
—Gail D. Smith, spouse, & Tom Leo, classmate
- COL (R) and Mrs. Thomas B. Russell '59