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Smith, Willard J. (1910-2000)

Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired)


Based on three interviews conducted by John T. Mason, Jr., in October 1977. The volume contains 650 pages of interview transcript plus an index. The transcript is copyright 1978 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee has placed no restrictions on its use.


After graduation from the Coast Guard Academy in 1933, Smith served a tour in the cutter Saranac before reporting to Washington for the first of two tours as aide to long-time commandant Russell Waesche. After flight training, Smith was involved in aerial surveying of Alaska and then served with a Navy patrol plane squadron during World War II. He was again aide as Waesche's tenure ended in 1946. He then commanded a Coast Guard air station and served in the Aviation Division at Coast Guard headquarters before studying at the Armed Forces Staff College. Following duty in Guam, he commanded the icebreaker Mackinaw on the Great Lakes and then served as commandant of cadets at the Coast Guard Academy in New London. Smith's memoir is particularly good in discussing changes made at the Academy during this period by Superintendent Frank A. Leamey. Smith then served in the 13th Coast Guard District before returning to New London as Academy Superintendent himself. After being Commander 9th Coast Guard District, Admiral Smith served as Commandant of the Coast Guard from 1966 to 1970. He describes the transition during this period as the Coast Guard was transferring from its long-time home in the Treasury Department to the newly created Department of Transportation.


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