Thomas John Smith

November 11, 1930May 13, 2017

Captain Thomas John Smith, USN, Retired, a resident of Williamsburg, Virginia, passed away at the age of 86 on May 13, 2017, after a short illness.

Capt. Smith was born in Buffalo, New York, on November 11, 1930, to Ralph and Marion Smith. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1953 with a degree in engineering. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1953 to 1979, retiring with the rank of Captain.

After receiving his commission as a Naval Officer, he joined the crew of the destroyer USS Soley (DD-707) as a junior officer in Norfolk, Virginia, for an eight-month round-the-world cruise, with twenty ports of call on four continents. His next assignment was that of Staff Operations Officer, Destroyer Division 322, aboard the destroyer USS Robinson (DD-562), also out of Norfolk.

Capt. Smith graduated from the Officers Basic Submarine Course at the U.S. Naval Submarine School, New London, Connecticut, in 1957 and then earned his qualification as a submariner aboard USS Cobbler (SS-344), out of Norfolk. Subsequent duty assignments included serving on the staff of the U.S. Naval Guided Missiles School, as Weapons Officer aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (SSBN-602), and Executive Officer on USS Entemedor (SS-340), both out of New London, Connecticut.

In 1966, after graduating from the U.S. Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk and the Prospective Submarine Commanding Officers' Course at the Submarine School, Capt. Smith became Commanding Officer of USS Blenny (SS-324), out of New London. Blenny won the coveted Battle Efficiency “E” Award for excellence in exercises and inspections under Capt. Smith's command.

Capt. Smith then served on Submarine Squadron 18 (Staff Weapons Officer) and Submarine Flotilla 6 (Readiness Officer) in Charleston, South Carolina. His next duty was to serve as Executive Officer of the submarine tender USS Canopus (AS-34) in Holy Loch, Scotland.

After one tour on the Staff of the Secretary of Defense and another with the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, both at the Pentagon, Capt. Smith's final assignment with the U.S. Navy was to serve as the Deputy Director of the Center for War Gaming and the Navy Field Operational Intelligence Office Detachment Support Element at the U.S. Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island.

Capt. Smith retired from the U.S. Navy on August 31, 1979. After several years as a civilian consultant, he settled in Williamsburg, Virginia, to enjoy surf fishing, golf, skeet shooting, and building models of historic ships.

Capt. Smith received numerous awards for his military service, including the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Navy Expeditionary Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (twice), and the Navy Commendation Medal. While serving on USS Abraham Lincoln, Capt. Smith sailed on five 90-day SSBN Strategic Deterrent Patrols over 26 months.

He is survived by his loving wife of more than 60 years, Eleanor Morehead, and daughters Debra (David) and Cynthia (Philip).

A funeral mass will be held on Thursday, May 18 at 11:00AM at St. Bede Catholic Church, Williamsburg, Virginia. Capt. Smith will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to either Hospice House and Support Care of Williamsburg or the Scholarship Fund of The Woman's Club of Williamsburg-GFWC.


  • Funeral Mass Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thomas John Smith

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Nick Nichols

May 25, 2017

To the Smith Family,

On behalf of the Charleston Base SUBVETS and Swamp Fox Chapter SUBVETS WWII, I offer you our sincere condolences on Thomas' passing. We grieve with you on the loss of your loved one and our shipmate. The SUBVETS will have your family in our thoughts and prayers. There is no expiration date on the back of our dolphins and Thomas, who earned his 'fish' when he qualified on USS COBBLER SS-344, will always be remembered as a Brother of the Phin and a great Patriot.

CAPT(SS) Thomas John Smith
US Navy Submarine Veteran Retired
Now on Eternal Patrol
Sailor Rest Your Oar
Your Shipmates Have The Watch

Fair Winds and Following Seas Shipmate

Charleston Base Submarine Veterans
Nick Nichols, MTCM(SS) USN Ret.
Base Chaplain


May 22, 2017

T.J., A good friend and, to me, known as " ToJo" from his OAO's letters while a midshipman. May he have in his final cruise a fair wind, following sea and Godspeed.

May 17, 2017

We are so sorry to hear about the passing of Tom. We have Eleanor and her daughters in our thoughts and prayers especially now. Love, Fran and Alan Wonsowski