1st Lt. Paul J. Smith III served his country as a Computer Specialist with the United States Air Force Standard Systems Group at Maxwell/Gunter AFB in Montgomery, Alabama. He always dreamed of following his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and becoming a career Air Force officer. On and off duty he is remembered for his candor, integrity, and dedication to God and country. He always showed his gratitude for the love of his family and deep concern for the well-being of others. At the age of 24, “Jay” perished in the ValuJet Flight 592 crash in the Florida Everglades on May 11, 1996. He was on leave to his alma mater, the University of Miami, to commission his fraternity brother into the Air Force. Jay was posthumously promoted to 1st Lt. and received the Air Force Commendation Medal by direction of the President of the United States for his dedication to duty and commitment to excellence. Moreover, a street was named for Jay at Maxwell/Gunter in honor of his service there.
“Lt. Paul ‘Jay’ Smith is the kind of young man on whom our nation’s future depends, and on whom our nation’s freedom and security has always depended.” – Former U.S. Representative Jack Fields, Texas.
In celebration of his life, his parents, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Paul and Susan Smith, established the Jay Smith Scholarship and Excellence Fund in 1996 to recognize exemplary Air Force ROTC college cadets. They transferred the endowment to FCEF in 2007. FCEF now manages the fund and annually awards two Jay Smith scholarships ($2,000 for a first place winner and $1,000 for a second place winner) to cadets who distinguish themselves through leadership and dedicated service to community and country. Because Jay was a proponent of recognition programs to honor those who make significant contributions, the Jay Smith Scholarship and Excellence Fund also supports Air Force organizations at Maxwell AFB and Gunter Annex, which receive stipends to sustain their recognition programs. These organizations include the 42nd Air Base Wing, the Air University, and the Squadron Officer School. Other organizations that have received support include Standard Systems Group and Air and Space Basic Course.
This display stands at the entrance to the Squadron Officer School at Maxwell AFB, Ala.
Please click here to learn more about the recipients of the Jay Smith scholarship.