Tuskegee Airman Quentin Smith laid to rest

2013-01-22T19:51:00Z 2013-01-22T20:48:12Z Tuskegee Airman Quentin Smith laid to restTimes Staff nwitimes.com
January 22, 2013 7:51 pm  • 

GARY | Funeral services were held Tuesday for Quentin Smith, a decorated Tuskegee Airman, longtime educator and former Gary city councilman.

Smith, 94, died Jan. 15.

Smith, a bombardier with the legendary black World War II air corps, later served as the first principal of West Side High School in Gary and created the Gary Emerson High School for Visual and Performing Arts.

Born in Texas, he came to Northwest Indiana at an early age. He graduated from Indiana State University in 1940 with a degree in social studies education.

After teaching for two years at Roosevelt High School in Gary, Smith joined the war effort.

After spending time at Fort Knox, 1st Lt. Smith was transferred to Freeman Field at Seymour, Ind., where he made military history. Smith and 100 other black officers were arrested for defying orders not to enter the base’s officers club.

The nation's first black Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall, then an NAACP attorney, would ultimately win the officers' release.

After Smith's military flight career, he returned to teaching, serving as a guidance counselor, school principal and director of secondary education for the Gary Community School Corp.

A member of the Tuskegee Airman 477th Composite Group, he was a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal.

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