By: Sandra Thompson
Meet Ewell Patterson Smith (I have often wondered what the “P” stood for!) SK3 US Coast Guard. Ewell was born in Athens on June 6, 1943 and grew up on Houston Street. After graduating from Athens High School in 1961, he attended Athens College and graduated in 1965 with a BA in Business Administration, after which he worked a short time for a finance company. In 1966, he joined the military because he felt it was his duty to serve his country. Instead of waiting to be drafted, Ewell elected to join the Coast Guard. He said he decided to join the Coast Guard because it intrigued him and he was very interested in fire and rescue. He had been a volunteer fireman in Athens for a number of years. He thought it would be a great adventure.
Ewell went to boot camp in Cape May, New Jersey. He was then stationed aboard the USS Unimak whose homeport was also at Cape May. At that time, the Unimak was used primarily for training Coast Guard Reserve personnel. Aboard the Unimak, he was assigned to the Radio Room, where he stood watch and relayed messages. He was also assigned deck duties which included maintenance of the deck. During General Quarters, when all hands (everyone available) aboard a ship must go to battle stations as quickly as possible, his primary duty was as a firefighter. Ewell says he remembers that they drilled every couple of days. Two-week missions were spent tracking Russian subs all over the East Coast from Charleston, SC. to St John’s Canada.
In 1972 when Ewell’s commitment in the Coast Guard was fulfilled, he separated as a Petty Officer 3rd Class. After leaving the Coast Guard, he went to work for another credit company and shortly thereafter, he received a call offering him a position as Assistant Business Manager at Athens College. Ewell retired as Dean of Financial Affairs at Athens State University.
Ewell has been a volunteer and on the Board of Directors at the Alabama Veterans Museum for over 9 years. After visiting the museum, he became interested in doing more for our veterans and that is why he got involved. He is currently the chairman of the nominating committee and also serves on the Building Fund committee. He has helped raise almost $500,000 toward our new expansion project. Ewell’s goal is to see this building expansion project become a reality. He would like to see the whole community get involved to make it happen. “I think that we should never forget the men and women that gave their all for this country and our right to be free; that is why this project is so important.”
In 1966, Ewell met his lovely wife Rita (Brown), and they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year. They have two sons, Denny and wife Kelly, and Stephen and wife Laura. They also have two grandchildren. Ewell also holds a master’s degree in Administration and Finance of Higher Education from the University of Alabama.
By: Sandra Thompson, Director, Alabama Veterans’ Museum