Ron Smitham, wife Jean

SMSgt retired

Born May 9th 1936

Entered Air Force June 1954

Retired June 1977

Basic training June – Sept. 1954

First assignment, Eglin AFB, FL., direct duty assignment, helicopter 43010. Supposed to be for new helicopter YH-16, long range search & rescue for B-36 crews shot down in Alaska. B-36 cancelled, YH-16 cancelled. First assignment, YH-21 blade de-icing test, climatic hanger, then H-19 assistant c/c, eventually c/c, flight status

Sept. 1957 assigned to the 56th ARS, Sidi Slimane AB, French Morocco. C/C SH-19 until Oct. 1958

Sept. 1958 assigned to Lowry AFB, Colo. C/C H-21A/B, FE. Local base rescue, AF academy support. Missile site support until Dec. 1961

Assigned to the 1001st Helicopter flight, Bolling AFB Washington, D.C, then 1001st Heli. Sqdn/1st HS Andrews AFB, MD. Assigned FE section till Jan. 1967

Jan. 1967, HH-43 school, Sheppard AFB, TX., April, Aircrew survival school, Fairchild AFB

June, Jungle Survival School, Clark AFB, Philippines

June 1967 Det. 12, 38th ARRS, Nha Trang AB, RVN, HH-43B/F. Sept. 1967 transferred to Det. 11, 38th ARRS, Tuy Hoa AB, RVN, HH-43B till June 1968

June 1968, assigned to 1001st Helicopter Sqdn. Andrews AFB, Maryland. Phase Maint. Chief, H-21B, FCF flight mechanic. Jan. 1970, UH-1N school, Shephard AFB. Received new UH-1N’s in 1972

Sept. 1972, receive assignment to 1131st Special Sqdn., A&A, MACV, helicopter advisory to the VNAF, VNAF headquarters, Tan Son Nhut AB, RVN. Was one of the last 199 troops to leave Vietnam, March 1973 after the peace accord was signed 1973

April 1973, returned to 1st HS, phase maintenance chief, UH-IN/CH-3E then flight chief UH-1N, then NCOIC QC, where I retired June 1977

Upon retirement, did not pursue another career. Worked in construction, bar-tending, retiring in 1990 from bar/pro shop/clubhouse manager, Iron River country club

Wife kept working {her own Idea} as I worked on my golf game. I’m still working at it, don’t look for me to be in the “masters”

That be it, not very exciting or interesting. Had a very enjoyable AF career. Helicopters only way to go

Forgot to mention, in 1976, Lt/Col. retired, John Slattery & I flew one of our old H-21’s that a civilian bought to [ Roofing contractor} Milwaukee, Wisc. Interesting trip.


~ Final Flight 27 May 2013 ~

Ronald W. Smitham, USAF
May 09, 1936 – May 27, 2013

Ronald W. Smitham, 77, of Iron River, MI, passed away Monday, May 27, 2013 at Marquette General Hospital, Marquette, MI.

He was born May 9, 1936 in Stambaugh, MI, son of the late Theodore and Filomina “Fannie” (Abata) Smitham. He attended the Stambaugh Schools, graduating from Stambaugh High School with the Class of 1954. Following graduation he entered the U. S. Air Force, serving two tours of duty in Viet Nam. He was then stationed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland until his honorable discharge in 1977.

Ronald married the former Mary Jean Butts on December 17, 1955 and after his retirement from the service, the couple returned to the area and made their home in Stambaugh Township.

Ronald was a member of the Masonic Lodge #174 of Maryland, VFW Ottawa Post #3134, American Legion Reino Post #21, and the Iron River Country Club and was an avid golfer.

He was preceded in death by his brother Mark Smitham.

He is survived by his beloved wife and best friend of 57 years, Mary Jean; daughter, Cheryll Martin of Cedarburg, WI; son, Guy (Ruth) Smitham of Waukesha, WI; and was a dear grandpa to five grandchildren, Misty Smitham, Brandi (James) Becker, Sonia Hirschfield, Stacy (Greg) Verhagen, and Nicole Hirschfield, and seven great grandchildren, Marissa, Jordyn, Aybree, Easton, Jacob, Brooklyn, and Kylie.

Private family services will be held.

Funeral arrangements by the Jacobs Funeral Home, Iron River.


2013-06-03 05:34
Dear Jean, The members of Centennial Lodge #174 are very sorry to hear that Ron has laid down his working tools to Enter the Celestial Lodge Above. The God and Father of us all has prepared a place at the table for your beloved husband and called him home. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
James Cloud PM, Centennial Lodge #174, Upper Marlboro, MD

2013-06-01 16:05I am so thankful that we have been having or cousins reunion so I got to know Ron better. I am so deeply sorry and my prayers go to the family. God Bless.
Darlene Keeling

2013-06-01 05:34
Jeannie & Family, We are so sorry to hear of Ron’s passing. He was such a friendly person. May God bless you and help you through this trying time. He will be missed by everyone that knew him. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Liz & Larry Deneau

2013-05-31 00:38
Mrs. Smitham ,Cheryll, Guy and Steve, I am so sorry. I will always have fond memories of Temple Hills and the way Mr. and Mrs. Smitham were always kind and welcoming when I came to visit with Cheryll when we were growing up. May God wrap you in His arms and comfort you. Blessings.
Karen (Kurtz) McGowan

2013-05-30 09:35
Dear Jean &Family, I was so sorry to hear about Ron. I am proud to call him my friend. We were stationed together at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. God Bless you all.
Lloyd Hutchinson

2013-05-29 15:09
I am so sorry to learn of Ron’s departure. He was a true friend, and I knew that for sure. We shared so many emails, and he has always been a great uplifting, and very thoughtful friend. I first met Ron at Lowry AFB, Colorado in 1960. We flew together, private aircraft, and H-21 helicopters there, and we have shared so many memories of those times. Jean, my prayer: May God be with you and bless you, and family, in this time of sorrow.
Bill Lyster

2013-05-29 15:01
Dear Jean and Family ~ Our thought and prayers are with you and your family. We will miss Ron, but he is now in a better place.
God bless you,
Dan Abata Family. We are so happy that we had time with Ron during our cousins reunion.

2013-05-29 14:30
MJ, So sorry to hear of Ron’s passing. My thoughts are with you.
Morgan Labadie

2013-05-29 03:44
I’m so sorry to hear of Ron’s passing. What a shock. He was such a sweet guy. Always had me laughing. God bless all of you. What’s up Ron??? I will never forget you..
Lisa Harju

2013-05-29 02:50
Sorry to hear of Ron’s passing. I knew Ron while stationed at Andrews AFB, 1st Helicopter Squadron. He taught me all I needed to know about the H-21 helicopter. My condolences are with you Jean and family. He will greatly be missed.
Jerold Clausius

2013-05-29 02:29
Mike and I are so sorry to hear about Ron. We always enjoyed it when you guys came to the station. Our condolences are with you Jean and your family. Ron will be greatly missed. We will miss that smile of his.
Denice and Michael Loia

2013-05-29 01:22
Ron was my friend and will be missed greatly. We communicated often via email, sending helicopter, old aircraft, and just general news or jokes. It has been my honor to know Ron. We first met at Andrews AFB, both being assigned to the 1st Helicopter Squadron. He taught me many things that I needed to know about the H-21 helicopter. May God bless Ron and be with Jean and family during these sad days.
Buck Watson

2013-05-29 00:37
“So proudly we hailed…” as a fellow Rotorhead and Viet Nam vet, I truly realize that such a man like Ron, who has given so much, will enjoy eternal life.
Joe Fiorillo

2013-05-28 23:57
I didn’t have the pleasure of working with Ron but as a fellow RotorHead he is one of our family. He will be missed greatly. May God rest his soul and comfort his family.
Bob Runninger

2013-05-28 15:46
I am deeply saddened to learn of Ron’s passing. I first met Ron when we were both stationed at Nha Trang AB, RVN (1967-1968). He was with the Rescue Detachment and I was with the 20th HS and we meet and shared experience. He helped me work on the UH-1F/P and I helped him work on the HH-43B’s as we both had experience on the opposite helicopters that we were assigned to at the time. Ron was such a great friend and fellow USAF helicopter troop and it has truly been an honor to know him and have him as a friend. I will miss our daily email traffic where we shared our experiences, told each other ‘tall tails’ and shared our love of our experiences serving our country as USAF helicopter troops. It has been a gift to me to have known this fine man. God rest his soul. God protect and comfort Jean and the Smitham family.
Jim Burns

2013-05-28 12:55
I am shocked and saddened to learn of Ron’s passing. I cannot begin to tell you how much he and your families friendship and patronage meant to me. How I would look forward to seeing him at the dealership and what a treat it was to exchange fellowship. May God bless Ron, Jean, and your family, Sincerely, Rex.
Rex Angeli

2013-05-30 06:15
I am saddened to hear about Ron and will miss our almost daily emails discussing worldly but mostly unworldly subjects. He was my good friend for over 53 years and I still remember how great he treated me when I was the new guy on the block. We had much in common and when I think of him in the future it will be with respect and thanks for his friendship. We pray that Jean has all the support she needs at this sad time.
Donald and Annette Larsen

2013-05-28 07:06
Jeanie, I am so sorry to hear of Ron’s passing. He was a very dear cousin. I will never forget your visits in the summer time. We sure had some good times. Ron was great person and he had a great sense of humor. I wish we could have gotten up north more often and visited. You and your family will be in our prayers.
All our love Jim & Carol BellantonioQuote
James & Carol Bellantonio

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