Story last updated at 9:15 PM on Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bruce Martin Smith




Homer resident Captain Bruce Martin Smith, 71, retired Pan Am and Delta pilot, perished in a plane crash Sept. 21, 2007.



 
 
Services will be held at 2 p.m. Oct. 13 at St. John's Catholic Church, followed by a reception at the Elks Lodge.

Born Aug. 6, 1936, in Kalispell, Mont., he was 71 and filled with plans he pursued with great vigor. Bruce lived an adventurous and productive life. While attending junior college in Wyoming, he began climbing and scaled vertical rock to the top of 1267-foot-high Devils Tower.

He was chosen nationally to be one of a handful of Civil Air Patrol Cadets to make a month-long trip to Chile to study aeronautics. He enrolled at Stanford University and graduated with a degree in history and political science.

Bruce realized his dreams when hired by Pan Am to begin an aviation career. He began work as navigator on trans-Pacific flights, using a sextant to confirm instrument readings and calculations.

Migrating east, Bruce lived and raised his children in Germany, Spain and England while flying jetliners on trans-Atlantic, European and Middle Eastern routes.

When terrorism struck and cost him his wife with the bombing of the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Bruce did not sue the airline for damage, he went after the killers. He poured all his resources and persuasive ability into creating a reward fund to deter terrorists. He also succeeded in getting Congress to amend the law so terror-sponsoring nations could be sued. People say that terrorists have been arrested and perhaps thousands of lives saved thanks to his dogged persistence.

His efforts helped lead to a change of historic significance when Libya renounced terrorism and made settlements to bereaved families.

He was consulted to help determine why the Korean Airlines flight from Alaska to Korea went so badly astray and was shot down over Russia. His experience as pilot and navigator pinpointed the errors that led to that tragedy.

Dissatisfied with mandatory retirement at age 60, Bruce trained to fly Saberliners. This began adventures in Africa flying potentates and staff through uncontrolled airspace into questionable airfields guarded by suspicious and well-armed patrols.

He spent several retirement years living on a sailboat in the Bahamas and began writing novels. He published one book and was working on another about Lockerbie and terrorism.

Researching a book featuring the Black Sea, Bruce found a happy relationship and a bride, Galyna, in Kiev. Bruce and Galyna decided to settle in Alaska and began building their dream home in Homer in 2005.

Bruce is survived by his wife, Galyna; daughter, Kristie Smith; sons, Scott Smith, Bradley Smith, Rodney Smith and Robin Ladue; four grandchildren; sister Nancy Richardson; brothers, Larry and Bill; aunt, Margaret Young; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

A memorial fund has been set up with the Civil Air Patrol. Donations may be made at Wells Fargo Bank to "Alaska Wing of the Civil Air Patrol Memorial Fund for Bruce Smith," account number 7063385061.

Information about fire, police and troopers is taken from public records consisting of logbooks and press releases.

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