Southeast Missouri State University

English Grad Makes Serving America a Lifelong Career

College of Liberal Arts

In nearly every phase of his life since high school, Doug Smith has served his country in one manner or another. A former United States Air Force pilot, Doug is now head of a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Doug came to Southeast Missouri State University in 1966 on a football scholarship and graduated in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in education, major in English. Upon graduation, Doug entered the United States Air Force (USAF), where he served for 26 years.

During his time in the Air Force, Doug completed numerous education and training programs, including graduating from the U.S. Army Undergraduate Helicopter Training program, NATO Fighter Pilot Training Instructor Course, Air Command and Staff College and Air Force Logistics Officer Course. By the time of his retirement in 1996, Doug had risen to the rank of colonel. Highlights of his Air Force career include a year flying rescue helicopters in Thailand during the fall of Saigon, serving as commander of a multi-national flying squadron in the NATO Fighter Pilot Training Program and a final tour of duty at the Pentagon as the USAF Director of Foreign Disclosure. He retired with more than 3,300 flying hours on helicopters and jet trainers.

After retiring, Doug stayed in the Washington, D.C. area and joined the staff of the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) as the first director of education and safety. Reaching back to his Southeast education and drawing on his flight training experience, Doug worked with the NAAA Educational Foundation board to plan, design, develop, implement and evaluate two new training modules every year. The program Doug created became an international-award-winning educational program for the nation’s agricultural aviators. He also played an instrumental role in getting the agricultural aviation industry back in the air in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In early 2003, Doug was asked by a close friend to join him in the Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate in the Department of Homeland Security. As the deputy chief-of-staff, Doug was offered the chance to create and develop the Directorate’s business operations infrastructure. His six-branch, 132-person business operations division is dedicated to solving problems, developing sound procedures and providing high quality service to the entire S&T staff.

“The most important part of my job is ensuring my staff are properly recognized and rewarded,” he explains. “The next most important thing is to keep learning. I do that through discussions with my managers and through continuing education classes, seminars and courses.

Doug says what he loves most about his job are the people.

"I am fortunate to have been able to hire my seven direct reports, who were able to select their immediate staff. I am proud to serve with these people supporting the DHS mission: ‘lead the unified national effort to secure the country and preserve our freedoms.”

Doug believes Southeast has had a vital impact on where he is today.

“In addition to the fine academic education I received, I learned many important practical life lessons from my professors and coaches at Southeast.

He says the most important lesson he learned at Southeast was from his former football coach and philosophy professor, Jim Hamby.

“Admit when you have made a mistake, and pay any penalty you may have imposed on others for that same mistake,” he says. “When the players made mistakes in practice, Coach Hamby made us run up the hill lugging a tackling dummy on our back.  When he made a mistake, he did the same thing!”

Doug says his fondest memories at Southeast involve the bonds of friendship he held with his Sigma Chi fraternity brothers.

Aside from all the great work he has done, Doug says the most important and rewarding thing in his life is his family.

“My four children are loving people who enjoy life and make their best contribution to our society, and my wife is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Doug currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Donna DeMayo.  In his spare time, he enjoys scuba diving, bike riding, hiking and writing poetry, including one self-published booklet.

Doug Smith (center) with his wife Donna at their wedding.