This is not only the story of J.C. Smith's journey to his own command; it is the story of how his naval career advancements brought about the changing of the old rule. Because of extreme circumstances and unusual events, J.C. Smith had one of the most unique career experiences of any naval aviation officer during the Vietnam era. Initially earning the pilot wings of a Naval Aviator, Captain Smith later earned the wings Naval Flight Officer. He pioneered the specialty of the Naval Flight Officer - those weapons and systems officers flying F-4 Phantoms, A-6 Intruders, EA-Prowlers, F-14 Tomcats, F-18 Super Hornets and other aircraft. His highly successful and memorable career was instrumental in the Navy decision to allow Naval Flight Officers to hold any command position previously reserved for pilots alone. Captain Smith's precedent setting commands of the Navy Fighter Weapons School and Fighter Squadron VF 114 have allowed other Naval Flight Officers to command squadrons, aircraft carriers, air wings and fleets.
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Carol Smith has been publishing children's stories, short fiction stories, articles and poetry for the past thirty years. Her first book, INSIDE OUT, was a compilation of her favorite short stories. She then compiled a group of her favorite poems - CLOSE TO MY HEART. JOURNEY TO COMMAND is the story of her husband, Navy Capt. J.C. Smith, and his remarkable Naval career. The Smiths, which includes four children, spent the Navy years in Califorina. Carol and J.C. Smith now live in San Angelo, Texas, near three of the four children and eight of their eleven grandsons.Review:
I served as a Naval Aviator in a carrier-based squadron with J.C. Smith and was there when history was being made.
It was the time when Naval Flight Officers (non-pilots) were first being tested in combat and would determine their career paths from then on. J.C. was the Radar Intercept Officer in the Phantom which shot down the very first MiG of the Viet Nam air war and would go on to establish the now-famous "Top Gun" air combat school at NAS Miramar. No graduate of this intensive course in aerodynamics and air-to-air tactics was ever downed by an enemy aircraft. The "Kill Ratio" improved ten-fold as graduates imparted their knowledge to their squadron mates and weapons' performance and reliability improved. It lead to new thinking on the importance of a close-in weapon (the 20 mm cannon), which is standard equipment on modern day fighters.
J.C. proved that formerly "second class citizen" aviation officers could climb the promotional ladder to become Commanding Officers of squadrons, Air Wings and aircraft carriers. They could even become Admirals. His wife, Carol, has written a story of the love they shared while telling the story of J.C.'s battles with the Navy's bureaucracy in attaining the funds, new equipment and recognition of the skills needed to survive in the arena of Air to Air Combat. -- Air-toAir Combat: A History, November 5, 2006 Reviewer: Roger W. Harris (Laveen, Arizona)
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