World War II veteran who survived attack on Pearl Harbor honored in Williamstown

11/11/2015 03:42 PM

WILLIAMSTOWN – A tradition continued in Williamstown on Wednesday as Grant County honored one of their own on Veterans Day in a ceremony at Williamstown High School.

Holton Smith, 94, was honored as the 2015 Williamstown Veteran of the Year.

Smith enlisted in the Air Force in 1941 and flew 52 reconnaissance missions; flying a P-38 aircraft while photographing identified locations for the government.

Smith had some hair-raising experiences such as, being chased by Russian aircraft that were heavily armed while he was not, and flying during engine failure over enemy territory with minimal fuels reserves. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked.

Smith’s daughter Karla Kirk, said that her father, who is in frail health, rarely talked to her about his experiences in the war with the exception of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

“He was very frightened, he said that it was a very terrible thing,” Kirk said. “He didn’t have a weapon at that moment. He was without a weapon.”

Kirk says the her father was appreciative of the honors that he received including, a Kentucky Colonel citation from Gov. Steve Beshear, a proclamation from the Kentucky State Senate, which was presented to him by Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, and a key to the city which came from Williamstown Mayor Rick Skinner.

“Oh, I think it meant a lot,” Kirk said. “I don’t think he realized how much he was appreciated and I think he was very much surprised.”

Holton, who was born in Richmond, was honorably discharged as Captain in 1946. He and his family ultimately settled in Williamstown where he established his bulldozer business, beginning with many of the roads around Williamstown Lake and the dam itself.

About Don Weber

Don Weber joined cn|2 when it launched back in May 2010 and soon became a reporter for Pure Politics. He is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University and has spent many years covering everything from politics to sports. Don says he loves meeting new people everyday as part of his job and also enjoys the fact that no two days are the same when he comes to work. Don Weber can be reached at


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