"It's something that he didn't start talking about until probably five or six years ago," said Paula Sims, Smith's daughter.
The first Lt. joined the air force straight out of high school.
He soon found a new love and a new hidden talent after several flying tests.
"There were seven of us that took them the same day I did and I was the only one out of the seven that passed," said Smith
That skill came to good use as he served in WWII.
His biggest memory, the day his plane crashed into the sea.
His crew was captured and they became prisoners of war for 13 months.
"You talk about freedom, when you lose it you you recognize real quick how much it means to you," said Smith.
It's taken him nearly seven decades to talk about that experience and fully appreciate it.
Today- he's not the only one whose grateful.
In fact an entire city has come to honor him.
Residents in Abilene will now celebrate john smith day every Nov. 10.
The 90 year-old will even be the grand marshal this years Veteran's Day parade and he's been practicing.
"I'm learning how to wave," he said.
They say freedom is never free and its men like Smith who have paid the price.
It's given many a new meaning to the red white and blue.