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Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Lance Smith gives the commencement address at Virginia Tech in the Spring of 2009. Smith, a Tech graduate who served as NATO's supreme allied commander for transformation from 2005 to 2007, spoke at the May 15 ceremony in Lane Stadium.

Smith also served as commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk in a military career that spanned nearly four decades. Smith received his commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force in 1970 and retired from active duty Jan. 1, 2008. He flew more than 165 combat missions in Southeast and Southwest Asia and served in command positions for 12 years. Smith's honors include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, three Silver Stars, the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, three Distinguished Flying Crosses and the Purple Heart.