In Memoriam - Lie
utenant Colonel D.L. Smith

Tragedy struck the Thunderbirds in Cleveland on September 8, 1981.  The team was leaving to return to Nellis Air Force Base when Thunderbird #1 ingested numerous seagulls on take-off.  The aircraft immediately lost power, caught fire and crashed into Lake Erie.  Aboard the T-38 were Thunderbirds Commander / Leader, Lieutenant Colonel David Lawrence Smith and his Crew Chief, Staff Sergeant Dwight Roberts.  Both men ejected with Sergeant Roberts suffering minor arm and knee injuries.  Lieutenant Colonel Smith, 40 years old from Rossville, Georgia, perished when his parachute failed at low altitude.  This page is dedicated to the memory of Lieutenant Colonel Smith.