Ray Smith: Secret City Historian, Veteran, Police Chaplain Emeritus

Ray Smith is a man of many missions, a man of many hats and he wears them well: Secret City historian, U.S. Air Force Vietnam veteran, Chaplain Emeritus, having served the Oak Ridge Police Department for 23 years.  Mr. Smith is also an engaging storyteller, author, videographer, Tennessee Historical Commission Commissioner, teacher, photographer, documentary producer, multi award-winning citizen, church elder, father, and devoted husband to his beloved wife of 57 years.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Ray Smith in May 2021 when he gave me a tour of the Oak Ridge History Museum as part of my research trip for the book I’m writing on the integration of Oak Ridge in the 1960s. What a delight to discover he was a police chaplain as I’m about to embark on a series featuring law enforcement officers from around the country.

Mr. Ray Smith’s achievements resemble what would take several men a lifetime to accomplish. He calls himself retired but shows no signs of slowing down. I’m honored to host this brave, humble hero in this video interview and share his stories, insights, and resources with you. Enjoy.

VIDEO BELOW: An Interview with Ray Smith, Secret City Historian, Vietnam Veteran, Police Chaplain Emeritus, Author and more.

Audio Version: Ray Smith Vietnam Veteran, Police Chaplain Emeritus, Oak Ridge, TN Historian.

In this video interview Mr. Smith shares about:

  • The history of Oak Ridge, Tennessee which was created in 1942 as one of the sites of the U.S. government’s Manhattan Project charged with the task to develop the materials for the atomic bomb that ended WWII.
  • How the Oak Ridge National Laboratory continues to serve us
  • Insights as a veteran
  • Insights from serving as a police chaplain.
  • Lots of fascinating facts, educational resources, wisdom, and MORE!

VIDEO BELOW: Ray Smith, Vietam Veteran, visits Normandy June 2019 with Narration

From Oak Ridge to the Moon video by Secret City Historian Ray Smith: Y-12’s role in man’s first landing on the moon.

VIDEO BELOW: Ed Westcott – Photographer: A documentary film about the life of the Manhattan Project photographer at Oak Ridge, TN.

Historically Speaking Series of Books by Oak Ridge Historian Ray Smith – Annual volumes of historical articles published in The Oak Ridger newspaper

Ray Smith’s wonderful resources are suitable for history and science lovers, educators, and those who love a good story.

Ray Smith on YouTube: ORICL: Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning Video Classes, hosted by Ray Smith Oak Ridge City Historian and Tennessee Historical Commission Commisioner

Historically Speaking article in the Oak Ridger newspaper by Ray Smith: Oak Ridge history documentary films, videos

Ray Smith’s Website from which you can access his many and varied amazing offerings.

Hidden History: Stories from the Secret City with Keith MacDaniel & Ray Smith

Our Hidden Past: The Prophet of Oak Ridge

Thank you for your service to our country, sir. Welcome home.

Thank you, Mr. Smith, for your example of compassion, faithfulness, love, and service in your community, your church, to God, and your family. May God continue to bless you, your work, and family. 

Who is Ray Smith?

Ray Smith ensures that current and future generations can learn about the heritage, history, ongoing and planned activities in the city of Oak Ridge, TN. Through printed media complemented by film, presentations, tours, and a history center, he has made the history of the Y-12 National Security Complex and Oak Ridge available to all.

Almost five decades of experience at Y-12 provide Smith a deep understanding and high appreciation of its unique heritage. He is also familiar with the history of the other government sites in Oak Ridge.  (He retired as Y-12 National Security Complex Historian in 2017.) He is an ambassador for Y-12 and Oak Ridge and has presented Y-12’s historic heritage story and the history of the city of Oak Ridge to universities, civic groups, school groups, conventions, conferences, technical societies, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) meetings in Las Vegas, NV, Los Alamos, NM, and Hanford, WA, and the public in several varied venues including a series of classes for Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning.

He has served on the American Museum of Science and Energy Foundation Board of Directors for several years, presently chairs the Nominating Committee and is on the Executive Board. Ray has worked to assist the transition of AMSE to the present location as part of the team developing the exhibits by contributing to the historical content and authoring some of it. He also reviewed the content of all exhibits as they were developing. He contributed the same support for the K-25 History Center as it was being developed.

A U. S. Air Force Vietnam veteran serving there in 1968-69, Ray has continued his service to others over the years. He is an elder of the Highland View Church of Christ, a Chaplain Emeritus of Oak Ridge Police Department and the past Chairman of United Way of Anderson County as well as past Campaign Chairman and first Alex de Tocqueville society member. He is the past Chairman of the Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties Board of Directors, the Chairman (and past chairman) of Tennessee Children’s Home Board of Trustees which serves children in all three grand divisions of Tennessee and in Bela Horizonte, Brazil. 

He is a board member of Friends of the Oak Ridge Public Library, presently serves on the Board of Directors for the Free Medical Clinic of Oak Ridge, which serves Anderson, Roane, and Morgan Counties, and continues to serve on the ADFAC Bow Tie Award Committee and the East Tennessee Economic Council’s Muddy Boot and Postma Medal Award Committee.

Additionally, Ray is serving a second term on the Board of Directors for the East Tennessee Historical Society and the East Tennessee History Center. He is a member of the Tennessee Historical Society, the Oak Ridge Heritage & Preservation Association and the Anderson County Historical Society as well as the Los Alamos County Historical Society. Ray is a Commissioner, Tennessee Historical Commission and Historian for the City of Oak Ridge, TN

In 2019 Ray began participating on the team led by Lee Riedinger to write a book on the history of the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge. The book, Critical Connections; How Partnerships Forged at the Dawn of the Atomic Age Helped Transform a University, a National Laboratory, and a City, is scheduled to be published in 2022.
Connect with Oak Ridge City Historian, Ray Smith:
EMAIL: draysmith@comcast.net

And thank you Mr. Smith for the opportunity and honor of contributing to your Historically Speaking Column in the Oak Ridger newspaper.

Click here to read my article in the Oak Ridger newspaper: The Integration of Oak Ridge: A Unique Perspective


Programs for Military Veterans and their Families

Paralyzed Veterans of America https://pva.org
Purple Heart Homes https://purplehearthomesusa.org
Travis Manion https://www.travismanion.org
Wounded Warrior Project https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org
Disabled American Veterans https://www.dav.org
Student Veterans of America https://studentveterans.org
Veterans of Foreign Wars https://www.vfw.org
Habitat for Humanity Veterans Build https://www.habitat.org/volunteer/near-you/veterans-build
Habitat for Humanity Repair Corps Program https://www.habitat.org/volunteer/near-you/veterans-build/home-depot-repair-corps-program
National League of Cities https://www.nlc.org/about/programs/
Operation Heal our patriots (A Ministry of Samaritan’s Purse International) https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/about-operation-heal-our-patriots/
Samaritan’s Purse Team Patriot https://www.samaritanspurse.org/our-ministry/team-patriot/

Click HERE for excerpts from and links to my interviews featuring U.S. military service members.

Billy Graham Rapid Response Team ~ National Law Enforcement Ministry

A Chaplain Ministry of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

*UPCOMING: A series of interviews featuring law enforcement officers from around the country coming soon!

Focus on the Family Counseling Services & Referrals:

To request a conversation with Focus on the Family’s Counseling Department with one of their licensed or pastoral counseling specialists at no cost to you: 1-855-771-HELP (4357) weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Mountain Time

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

24/7/ 365 days a year Call:  1-800-273-8255

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association  24 hour Prayer Line: (888) 388-2683.

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© 2021 Rachael M Colby | Tattoo It On your Heart

Author: Rachael M. Colby

Born and raised in Jamaica, award-winning writer Rachael M. Colby resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Wife, mom, beach bum, artist, work in progress, avid Tweeter—#HealthyFaithChat leader, Rachael writes to glorify God, encourage believers, and reach the lost. She connects culture’s questions with Christianity’s answers, inspires faith, and motivates through articles, devotions, poetry, and interviews. She has a heart for racial reconciliation and to uplift those who serve in tough places. Her work has appeared on Southern Ohio Christian Voice, Inkspirations Online, the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Blog, in the compilation books Creative Writing Journal: Faith Inspired Writing Prompts & Hope-Filled Poetry, The Courage to Write: 62 devotions to Encourage your Writing Journey, and Defining Moments: Memorable and Inspiring Stories from Outstanding Leaders, and the Oak Ridger newspaper. She runs on copious amounts of coffee and chocolate and a whole lot of "Help me, Jesus." Her WIPS include a compilation of her family’s and others’ stories of their work as civil rights activists (adult and children’s books), and a devotional for writers. You can connect with Rachael on her website, TattooItOnYourHeart.com—a place for seekers, followers, and writers, and on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

4 thoughts on “Ray Smith: Secret City Historian, Veteran, Police Chaplain Emeritus”

  1. Loved this post and the vast learning that came with it. Thank you for introducing us to Mr. Ray. Such in-depth knowledge and understanding. Thank you Ms. Rachael.


  2. What an amazing interview! Mr. Ray Smith is an institution all in himself. It’s hard to believe how much of American history he has been involved with and knows. There are precious few people like Mr. Smith. Thanks so much for sharing him and his stories with us. I could get my lunch and let him talk for another 45 minutes, just like that little girl in the school he talked about. Thanks also for sharing all the resources that he talked about.


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