Inspiration behind Honor Flight San Diego passes at 95-years-old

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The veteran who inspired Honor Flight San Diego, a local nonprofit that raises money to send World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington DC to visit the memorials built for their service, died Sunday. He was 95 years old.

David Smith, the found of Honor Flight San Diego, said, like a lot of World War II veterans, his father didn’t tell many stories.

“They were asked by their country to serve so they just went and they served,” said David Smith, Founder of Honor Flight San Diego.

He heard the stories of the camp his father rescued from an enemy solider and the bullet that went through the top of his helmet.

His son called him a brave soul, a hero. “He has been the most giving human being I have ever seen in my entire life,” said Smith.

World War II veteran Arthur Smith died Sunday. He was 95 years old. He served in the Marine Corps from 1942 to 1948.

Arthur’s son, David, said his father is the reason he started Honor Flight San Diego. “It means so much to them to know that someone actually is saying thank you,” said Smith.

Ten years ago, there’s wasn’t a branch for Honor Flight here in San Diego. Smith had the opportunity to take his father to Washington D.C. on Honor Flight Network. He said he can still remember the look in his father’s eyes.

“They didn’t expect it and then he was finally being honored and it had a major impact on him that somebody was actually thanking him for his service,” said Smith.

When Smith learned there wasn’t a local Honor Flight hub, he wanted to change that. He wanted to give that feeling to the other heroes in our community. Honor Flight San Diego started in Smith’s living room and they had their first flight in 2010.

“I get calls from 90-something individuals saying, ‘I was ready to leave this world and after I went on this flight, I realized that I have some worth. I am worthwhile,” said Smith.

Smith said his father was present helping him in this journey every step of the way.

“It became more difficult for him in the later years, but even up to last year, he did an interview down in front of the Midway just because he knew he could help out,” said Smith.

That’s why Smith will continue his fight to make sure every one of our heroes is honored.

“I want his legacy to be remembered for what he did for others, what he gave others,” said Smith. “It was always reaching out to help someone else.”

There will be a public memorial to honor Arthur Smith at the Veterans Museum. In lieu of flowers, the family will accept donations in Arthur Smith’s name for Honor Flight San Diego.


Donate here ( ) to help send World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington DC to visit the memorials built for their service.


Categories: Local San Diego News