General Perry Smith Parkway was named by the Aviation Commission to thank Smith for his 30 years of service in the U.S. Air Force and his dedication to Augusta.
The ceremony was held at St. Paul’s Church River Room, which Smith is credited with helping get built. The presentation opened with a prayer from the Rev. Robert Fain, the rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd.
The Augusta State University ROTC color guard presented the colors. There were more people saluting than not because of the heavily military-based crowd.
David Hudson, a local attorney who was the event’s master of ceremonies, then introduced and played a short film chronicling Smith’s life and career, including pictures of his two children and five grandchildren.
Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver presented Smith with a key to the city.
“You really define city pride,” Copenhaver said.
Two Medal of Honor recipients were present, including retired Col. Jack Jacobs. Jacobs said his friend always wanted to hear what his subordinates thought, especially when they disagreed with him.
Smith always wanted to teach, no matter how much trouble it brought him.
“Gen. Smith cared more about what happened to America than what happened to him,” Jacobs said.
The biggest lesson Smith taught him was that the best things in life happen “if you care more about your people than you do yourself.”
Jay Forrester, the chairman of the Aviation Commission, thanked Smith for his service to the country and Augusta, presented him with the official road sign that will stand by the airport, and gave Smith a framed copy to bring home.
Smith then took the podium and thanked the crowd, his family and friends for being present. Five of his U.S. Military Academy classmates were in the audience.
He then turned to his wife of 52 years and thanked her for “picking me up when I am down and bringing me back down when I get too high.”
He also expressed appreciation to his late father and father-in-law, Medal of Honor recipient Jimmie Dyess, who also has a road named after him in Augusta.
The ceremony closed with retired Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas J. Clark reciting Johnny Cash’s Ragged Old Flag lyrics and Smith’s wife, Connor Smith, leading the crowd in God Bless America.