After graduating from Mississippi State in 1956, he entered the Air Force. He had made 32 sorties into enemy territory and returned 32 times. His 33rd mission took him straight into the heart of Hanoi, North Vietnam. Hanoi was the most heavily defended city in the history of aerial warfare.
No other city in the world had as many anti-aircraft guns protecting it. Gene’s target that day was the Doumer bridge, a vital link for supplies. He dropped the nose of his F-105 and set his sights on the bridge below. Every gun in eyesight was eyeballing him. He pickled the switch that released his bomb, scoring a direct hit and splashing the first span of the bridge into the river below.
But the enemy’s aim was true as well, and Gene Smith’s aircraft was tattered by flak. He was hit in his leg by the chunks of metal, and injured further upon ejection. When he hit the ground in the middle of the city, he was shot again twice in the leg. The pilot had hit his target. So had the enemy. For the next five and a half years, Gene Smith would be a POW in Vietnam, never once receiving treatment for his wounds.
Click here read the rest of Gene Smith’s story at www.40DaysofHonor.com.