Retired United States Air Force Gen. Lance L. Smith, a graduate of the Pamplin College of Business who served as the commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, Va., and NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation from 2005 to 2007, will address Virginia Tech's Class of 2009 during University Commencement exercises Friday, May 15, at Lane Stadium/Worsham Field.

The University Commencement ceremony will begin at 7:30 p.m.

“We are extremely grateful Gen. Smith will deliver this year’s university commencement address,” said Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. “A highly decorated combat veteran, Gen. Smith will certainly convey to our graduates how a Virginia Tech education can be a great foundation to an extraordinary career."

Smith retired from active duty on Jan. 1, 2008. As Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, Smith led the transformation of NATO's military structures, forces, capabilities, and doctrines to improve interoperability and military effectiveness of the alliance and its partner nations. As commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command, he was responsible for maximizing present and future military capabilities of the United States by leading the transformation of joint forces in the areas of providing joint forces to combatant commanders, joint training, joint interoperability, and joint innovation and experimentation.

A native of Virginia and a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in business management, Smith received his commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force from Officer Training School in 1970.

He has more than 12 years in command during war and peace, ranging from commanding composite U.S. Air Force wings in Southwest Asia to service as the U.S. 7th Air Force commander and combined forces air component commander for all of South Korea. He commanded the NATO School at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, the Air War College, and the Air Force Doctrine Center. He also was the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command.

He has flown more than 165 combat missions in Southeast and Southwest Asia in the A-1 Skyraider and the F-15E Strike Eagle. A command pilot, he has more than 3,000 hours in the T-33 Shooting Star, T-37 Tweet, T-38 Talon, A-1, A-7 Corsair II, A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-111F Aardvark, F-15E and F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Smith's military decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, three Silver Stars, the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, and the Purple Heart.

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