Sudden passing of AFNORTH employee comes as shock to all

By: Lt. Col. Susan A. Romano, AFNORTH Public Affairs Email
By: Lt. Col. Susan A. Romano, AFNORTH Public Affairs Email

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – A well-known and highly regarded civil servant with Air Forces Northern’s Installations & Mission Support Division passed away suddenly Oct. 20.

Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Prince A. Smith Jr., a former Security Forces superintendent, died of a heart attack in his home. At the time of his death, he was employed by AFNORTH as the Chief of Plans and Programs for the A7 Directorate.

He is survived by his wife, Sun, his daughter, Erika, his mother Daisy Mae Washington, and his father, Prince A. Smith Sr.

Mr. Smith dedicated 26 years of his life to the Air Force. He entered active duty in November 1980 and served his entire career as a member of security forces in various assignments across the globe. His major awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Air Force Achievement medal. His last active duty assignment prior to his retirement in 2006 was with AFNORTH/A7S.

Mr. Smith had been employed by AFNORTH as a civilian since July 2008. Prior to joining AFNORTH, he worked at the Naval Support Activity-Panama City as the supervisor of gate security.

According to those who knew him well, his work ethic was surpassed only by his kindness and gentle humor.

“Smitty will always be remembered for his huge smile,” said co-worker and good friend Marvin Harris. “He would light up a room with his personality, and he had such class. No one came close to Smitty on how to deal with people tactfully. He just knew how to get things done with sugar instead of vinegar.”

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Tallahassee and graduated from the Developmental Research School of Florida State University. He also earned an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the Community College of the Air Force.

Several co-workers were shocked to learn of his sudden passing, but remember him with fondness.

“Prince was always polite to everyone, even when people weren’t polite to him,” said fellow A7 member Ann Garner. “He would find ways to take a very dark and gloomy situation and turn it around with his positive attitude.”

Mr. Smith’s immediate supervisor and AFNORTH’s Chief of Force Protection had nothing but praise for his fallen comrade.

“We truly don’t realize the impact that people have on our lives – their absolute importance to us – until they’re gone and you actually have to face the day without them by your side,” said J.T. Brooks. “I am going to miss him as a co-worker and more importantly as a friend. He was a good man.”

AFNORTH’s vice commander, Brig. Gen. Joe Lengyel, expressed his sympathy on behalf of the men and women of Continental U.S. NORAD Region-1st Air Force.

“I extend my sincere condolences to Sun, Erika and the entire Smith family on Prince’s sudden and untimely passing,” said General Lengyel. “He was a valuable part of our team, and his dedicated service to his nation as both an active duty member and a civil servant is a testament to the type of man he was. We are deeply saddened, but will continue to honor his memory and patriotism.”

Funeral arrangements are scheduled to take place in Tallahassee Sunday, Oct. 31, with visitation at Strong & Jones Funeral Home, 551 W. Carolina Street from 2-4 p.m. (Eastern) and burial service at Southside Cemetery, 3514 Capital Circle SW at 4 p.m. (Eastern).

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