Southsider Voice correspondent
Dan Smith, Class of 1963, was told when he was 5 years old that he would never walk again, the result of being in a fire. Well ... he proved the doctors wrong, persevered and made himself out to be a normal child and young man – without limitations.
Dan lettered four years in football and band, three years in basketball and two years in track. Because the band was so small, he and a few of his eighth-grade classmates played in it before being in high school. He played the trumpet through his sophomore year and the drums as a junior and senior.
After graduation he spent the summer working for the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. In the fall that year he entered the U.S. Marine Corps and headed off to Camp Pendleton in California for basic training, where he received the Leatherneck Award. He was then sent to Memphis, Tenn., to Aviation Electronics School and graduated with honors.
The next step was moving on the Cherry Point Airwing Command. In July 1965 he was deployed to Vietnam and joined the Fighter Attack Squadron (4 F Squadron) in Chu Lei, VMFA 323 (The Death Rattlers). Two years later he was sent to Iwakuni, Japan, for four months, and he received an honorable discharge as sargeant.
Dan attended Purdue University in 1967 and 1968. He worked at PR Mallory for six months, RCA Magnetic Products for 18 months and Time-O-Matic for a year.
He enrolled at Indiana State University in February of 1971 and was employed by the University Staff Computer Center as computer operator. Working nights, he was able to attend classes during the day. Dan also attended Rose Hulman in the evenings to pick up some classes that he could not get at ISU. Dan remained in the military all this time through the Naval Reserve Center in Terre Haute.
Dan graduated from ISU in July 1973 and entered Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Fla. One month later he was commissioned an ensign and started flight school. In February 1974 he received his flight wings and served at the Naval Flight Office in Corpus Christi, Texas.
In August 1974 he was attached to Patrol Squadron 46 in San Jose, Calif., Anti-Submarine Warfare Squadron. His duties included first lieutenant, legal officer, AW division officer, privacy act coordinator and general funds auditor. This included two six-month deployments (Iwakini, Misawa and Okinawa, Japan).
Dan received a temporary release of duties from the naval squadron in May 1977 to participate in a program of major importance in the Navy: The Vistol Program in China Lake, Calif. He and a team of officers were charged with the responsibility to determine and evaluate the concept of operation for vertical and short takeoffs and vertical-landing aircraft as well as the resulting impact on naval forces and operation in the mid-1990s. In order to aid the study and provide credibility, Dan procured environmental data and compiled an acoustic data book for the North Atlantic and Indian Ocean areas.
In November 1977 he was transferred to a new assignment at the Navy Recruiting Command, Washington, D.C. He headed the Congressional and Special Inquiries Division, which was responsible for conducting investigations and responding to congressional interest, White House liaisons, the Department of Defense, the secretary of the Navy and the chief of Naval Operations.
While on duty at Naval Recruiting Command, Dan attended and graduated from Central Michigan University in Washington D.C., with a masters of arts/business management and supervision degree.
In January 1980 he was transferred to the Navy Recruiting District in Indianapolis as executive officer of Recruiting Command. While here he was inducted into the Prospect Masonic Lodge, the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite and as a Shriner at the Murat Temple.
Dan was transferred to the USS Midway, Yokosuka, Japan, in August 1982 as a combat information center officer. When they went out to sea, he developed a video rental station, and when in port he organized many tours of the islands.
Dan was transferred to Naval War College, Newport R.I., in 1986 and studied warfare. He also studied at Salva Regina College and received a master of arts in international relations as well as his diploma from the War College.
From 1986-88 he was sent to Anti-Submarine Warfare NAS, in Brunswick, Maine, where he was the patrol plane mission commander; he was deployed to Rota Spain and frequently sent to Iceland, Germany and Scotland.
July 1988 found Dan transferring to a joint services command at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha Neb. The mission was to support Air Force One. He was gone a week, stayed on base a week on alert and then home a week. He flew with many dignitaries, including President George H. W. Bush.
In January 1992 Dan detached/resigned/retired his commission from the Navy after 29 years of continued military service. He then researched and wrote his business plan to serve his community by opening a rental store in Bellevue, Neb. He later opened his center, which has been very successful for the past 24 years.
Dan married the former Resi Ann Meurer, a 1967 graduate of Beech Grove, in November 1970. They met while she was attending ISU and he was employed by RCA.
They have two children, Troy and Ashley, and three grandchildren.
Dan taught sailing for the American Red Cross and sailed for years on the San Francisco Bay. This past year he and his wife sold one of their businesses because they wanted to get back on the water. Therefore, they purchased a 42-foot Vagabond Ketch, known as The Resi Ann III, which is docked on Lake Superior.