Major General Frank H. Smoker Jr., USAF (Retired), 85, Lebanon, passed away on July 16, 2010, following a lengthy illness.
Born in Columbia, Lancaster County, he was a son of the late F. Harold and Catherine Smoker.
He was a graduate of Columbia High School in 1943, Franklin and Marshall College, Auburn University and the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
He was the husband of Kathleen Farrow Smoker, formerly of Wellingborough, England, with whom he would have celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in December.
Also surviving are a sister, Sarah Boice (The Rev. James), Chambersburg; a brother, Richard Smoker (Marion), Sun City, Fla.; a daughter, Barbara Harvey, North Wales; a son, Col. David Smoker, PAANG, (Brenda), New Cumberland; a son and daughter, Dung and Loi Phung, Lebanon; grandchildren: Amanda Swarr, Seattle, Wash.; Jessica Stout, Quakertown; Manh Phung, Ashburn, Va.; Thao Wessler (Jared), Royersford; and Capt. Tien Phung, USAF, (fiancee, Elizabeth Johnson), Scott AFB, Missouri; and five great-grandchildren.
Gen. Smoker was a veteran of World War II. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in February 1943, and served in the 8th Air Force, where he was assigned to the 325th Bomb Squadron, 92nd Bomb Group, Podington Air Force Base, England.
He flew 26 combat missions over Germany as a B-17 navigator, totaling 222 combat hours. He met his wife, Kathleen, while serving in England.
He joined the Pennsylvania Air National Guard in 1946, and graduated from the United States Air Force Pilot Training in 1952. During the 1950s, he flew numerous worldwide transport missions in C-121 aircraft, including five combat missions into Vietnam. He flew a total of over 5,000 hours.
During his 42-year military career, he had numerous assignments, including Commander of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard for seven years prior to his retirement in 1985. Upon retirement, he was promoted to the honorary rank of Lieutenant General, Pennsylvania National Guard Retired List.
He received numerous awards and decorations, foremost of which was the Air Force’s highest peacetime decoration presented upon retirement, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal.
He was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout by the Boy Scouts of America in 1989, and the Dept. of Military and Veterans Hall of Fame in 1998.
In 1994, Gen. Smoker was honored as one of six generals who were born and raised in Columbia. He was the recipient of the Thirty-Third Degree, the highest honor of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, conferred by the Supreme Council, AASR, September 1998.
Gen. Smoker was instrumental in founding the Pennsylvania National Guard Museum at Fort Indiantown Gap. He served as museum president of the board of directors. He also served in volunteer capacity on various community organizations, including chairman of the board in the Lebanon County Chapter of the American Red Cross and the board of directors of the United Way of Lebanon County.
He was a member of numerous organizations, including the Air Force Association; the National Guard Associations of the United States and of Pennsylvania; Columbia Lodge 276, F&AM; the National Sojourners Harrisburg Chapter 76; and the National Eagle Scout Association. The General and Mrs. Smoker were actively involved with the Vietnamese refugees at Fort Indiantown Gap in 1975. The Smoker family resided at the Gap from 1953 to 1985.
Gen. Smoker is the author of “Back at the Gap, The History of Fort Indiantown Gap,” published in 2009. His column, entitled “Back at the Gap,” appeared in the Lebanon Daily News from 2003 to 2005.
There will be no viewing. A memorial service will be held on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at the Post Chapel, Fort Indiantown Gap. Seating in the chapel is limited. Interment at Fort Indiantown Gap National Cemetery with full military honors.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the PA National Guard Military Museum, Fort Indiantown Gap, Bldg. T-8-57, Annville, PA 17003-5002, would be appreciated.
Kreamer Funeral Home and Crematory, Annville, is in charge of arrangements. www.kreamerfuneralhome.com