AUSTIN (KXAN) - It was 2007, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Austin, where a short but life-changing elevator encounter happened between two men.
Smith is head of security for the hotel and found himself face to face with the then-Sen. Barack Obama, who was in Austin during the early stage of his first presidential campaign.
"My purpose there was to work with the Secret Service agents," said Earl Smith.
During their brief talk, Earl gave the senator something very special to him: A 101st Airborn Division "Screaming Eagles" patch which he had received from fighting in Vietnam.
"You just hoped and prayed in the bunker and take protection that you didn't get hit," recounted Smith.
For decades, Smith always carried the patch on him to remember those who were lost.
"No war is good and the bad side is casualties, life and death," said the 68-year-old veteran.
Years later, a moment that meant so much to Earl, apparently meant a lot to the President as well. Apparently, President Obama kept the memento the whole time.
"Seven years later, it's amazing," Smith said.
President Obama sent Smith a person invitation asking him to attend the 2013 inauguration.
"It was one of the greatest experiences of my life," said Smith.
While in D.C., the Vietnam veteran got to do something he waited 30 years to do -- pay respect to his fallen brothers at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.
"Guys gave their life for this country, the ultimate for this country," said an emotional Smith. "I am not ashamed of my tears because my tears are genuine."
The veteran was then asked to the White House, where he walked into the Oval Office to meet an old friend.
But before words were exchanged, Smith did something on behalf of his fallen comrades, he saluted the Commander in Chief.
"That salute came from me but it represented every American, that's why it what was so special," explained Smith.
The two men talked for awhile and Smith even took a picture with President Obama. He's still waiting on the White House to send him the picture.
The freezing and near-freezing rain that swooped into Central Texas overnight prompted numerous school closings and delays and made for a harrowing morning commute on Friday.
A man is charged with murder in the shooting death Wednesday of a woman at a North Austin auto repair shop, police said Friday.
A man is expected to survive after being stabbed in the head at the Salvation Army shelter in Downtown Austin at about 3:45 a.m. Friday.
As the Austin area prepares itself for an impending winter storm on Friday, Dec. 6, many schools have already announced delays.
With freezing temperatures pushing through the region, heating systems will likely be working overtime, which can bring rising energy bills.
Investigators are looking into an overnight fire that left one woman with third-degree burns.