Edward M. Smith

  • Colonel
  • Vietnam


Edward M. Smith was born on 8 June 1944 in Easton, Maryland to John and Patricia Smith. His dad was a career Naval Officer who was serving in World War Two when Ed was born. Ed is a 1962 graduate of Granby High School in Norfolk, Virginia where he played baseball on a Norfolk City League team. Ed earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Rhode Island in 1967. During his time at URI, he joined the Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, participated in the Army ROTC program for two years, was a member of the track team, and was the “voice” of Ram basketball at the WRIU radio station.

Upon graduation from URI, Ed entered the Air Force on 4 April 1967 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant through the Air Force Officer Training School in June 1967. His first duty assignment was in Izmir, Turkey as Chief of Industrial Engineering and Chief of Operations and Maintenance in the Base Civil Engineer organization supporting the United States Logistics Group in Turkey. While Chief of the Industrial Engineering branch, the United States Air Force Europe Inspector General rated his branch as “Outstanding.”
In September 1969, Ed was transferred to Southeast Asia as Chief of Operations and Maintenance for the 8th Civil Engineering Squadron, Ubon Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand. In response to airfield sapper attacks aimed at the mission aircraft and their supporting assets at Ubon, Ed led the civil engineering effort to enhance base perimeter security which was vital to the fighter/bomber combat air operations in Southeast Asia. For his efforts, Captain Smith was awarded the Bronze Star.

In 1970, Ed was assigned to the Air Force Civil Engineering Center at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. During this assignment, he developed policy for civil engineering mobility contingency programs. In 1972, he was assigned to the Pentagon as a staff assistant to the Chief, Maintenance Management Division, Directorate of Civil Engineering, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. There Ed deployed multi-faceted military teams to meet worldwide contingencies. He later became the Executive Officer to the Air Force Chief of Environmental Protection, responsible for the integration of environmental program management across all Civil Engineering units.
In 1974, Ed was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy as Chief of Operations and Maintenance and later Chief of Programs for the Civil Engineering squadron. Ed managed 560 personnel in 31 work centers, supporting and maintaining the Academy physical plant worth $212 million. For his efforts, Ed was promoted to the rank of Major two years early.

His follow-on assignment after graduation from Air Command and Staff College in 1979 was to Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii where he served on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific. While in Hawaii, he later became the Executive Officer to the Director for Logistics and Security Assistance.

As a Lieutenant Colonel in 1982, Ed became the first Commander of the Civil Engineering Squadron for the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, Colorado Springs. His squadron was recognized as “best” in Air Force Space Command for 1983, while he personally received the 1983 Air Force Space Command Civil Engineering Meritorious Achievement Award for exceptional leadership and professionalism. Ed later moved to Air Force Space Command Headquarters in 1984 as Director of Engineering, Office of the Chief of Staff, Engineering and Services. Later that year, he became the assistant to the Chief of Staff for the consolidated headquarters of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the U.S. Air Force Space Command located at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.
Colonel Smith became Joint Secretary of the U.S. Space Command Joint Staff when it was activated in 1985. After attending the Air War College in 1987, Ed was selected to become the Commander of the Cheyenne Mountain Support Group, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colorado. For his outstanding demonstration of leadership, Lieutenant Colonel Ed Smith was promoted to Colonel one year early.

Colonel Smith’s military decorations and awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for Valor and the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award. Colonel Smith was selected as a U.S. Jaycee “Outstanding Young Man of America” in 1977. His professional articles were published in the Air Force Civil Engineer, the University of Southern Colorado publication, The Vision, the American Management Association publication Compensation Review, and the Air Force Journal of Logistics. Ed received a Master of Arts Degree in Public Administration and Business Management from Central Michigan University.

In 1991 Colonel Smith retired from the Air Force and became the Executive Director of Facilities Management for the Pueblo Colorado Educational Alliance between School District 60 and the University of Southern Colorado. There he managed the physical plant and support services for the public school and university system.

In 1998, Ed returned to URI to become the University of Rhode Island Director of Facilities Services and to fulfill a desire to give back to his Alma Mater. Having been selected from 80 candidates, Ed managed the initial growth of facilities at the campuses of Kingston, Narragansett Bay, W. Alton Jones, and the Providence Feinstein Center. He was the key contributor in formulating the first campus-wide Master Planning initiative, the results of which are plainly evident in the new facilities and major construction taking place at URI today.

Ed was a distance runner for three decades completing nine marathons over the years including New York City, Honolulu, San Francisco, Cleveland and Pikes Peak. Ed and his wife Joy of 47 years reside in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Colonel Edward M. Smith has exemplified the attributes of leadership, integrity, moral courage and selfless service to our nation. The multiple distinctive accomplishments of Colonel Smith reflect great credit upon himself, his family, the University of Rhode Island, and the United States Air Force.