- Date of Birth:
- January 1, 1945
- San Benito
Earl Smith (Born Earl Smith Jr. in San Benito, Texas in 1945) is an American security official and former Vietnam veteran. Earl grew up poor in Texas, the son of a house worker and a laborer. He helped out his family by washing dishes at San Benito’s Stonewall Jackson Hotel before going to school and after attending football practice. He also worked at the Rio Grande Fields, picking cotton for 50 cents an hour. Earl was working as a veterinarian’s assistant when he was drafted to fight in the 101st Airborne, before he was reassigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He fired artillery with the brigade, one that suffered over 10,000 casualties throughout the course of the war. After being discharged at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Earl made his way to Atlanta. In 1973, Earl got caught up in an argument with an off-duty cop who shot Smith in the hip and the leg. He was sentenced to five years in prison for aggravated assault, but after serving three years, the Georgia Department of Corrections granted Earl a pardon after he swore he was acting in self-defense. After prison, Earl began working in the hotel business, meeting presidents Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Earl was also a guest of Michelle Obama’s at President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address.
Best Known For:
Earl Smith is best known as a hotel worker, an American Vietnam war veteran and an inspiration to Barack Obama.
Earl married Claudia Howard in 1981. They had two children together. While working as the Director of Security at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Austin, Earl met Senator Obama and gave the then-candidate his military patch to help keep Obama “safe” in his journey. Barack accepted the patch and carried it with him throughout the 2008 Presidential campaign. It will be part of his Presidential library when he leaves office.