Face of Defense: Soldier Seeks, Finds Excitement in Army
By Army Sgt. Brad Willeford
Special to American Forces Press Service
CAMP TAJI, Iraq, Aug. 4, 2008 When Pfc. Tommy Smith enlisted in the Army in 2006, he joined the infantry looking for excitement and adventure.
Army Pfc. Tommy Smith, a Rome, Ga., native, greets an Iraqi boy during a patrol through a remote village in the Taji area northwest of Baghdad, Feb. 20, 2008. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brad Willeford, Multinational Division Baghdad
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The Rome, Ga., native is deployed to Multinational Division Baghdad with the 25th Infantry Division’s Company A, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and is having the adventure he always looked for.
Smith worked in construction before joining the Army, and in his spare time he practiced the martial arts he learned from his father. In high school, Smith played football and spent his weekends working on his truck and hanging out with friends. But when the sense of adventure he wanted was not there, he decided to see what the Army had to offer.
His first sense of adventure came quickly after signing his enlistment contract. His first plane ride -- to basic combat training at Fort Benning, Ga. -- was one of the many firsts for Smith in his military career.
His next stop was Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
There, Smith took advantage of all that Hawaii has to offer. He spent his days hiking, snorkeling and driving around the island. When he received word of his imminent deployment to Iraq, he took the news in stride.
“I knew full well that I would be going to Iraq,” he said. He said the news was not a shock and that he looked forward to the challenge.
On the flight to Kuwait en route to Iraq, Smith said, he felt a little anxious and full of anticipation, but that he was able to take strength in knowing he knew his job, and knew it well.
“He is always ready for any mission. [He] just says ‘Roger’ and moves out. He is also very handy with tools. He chips in wherever he can,” said Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Zwicker, a native of Modesto, Calif., and Smith’s platoon sergeant.
In his first seven months in Iraq, Smith has been on more than 75 missions, working as a member of the personal security detail for the company commander. As a part the PSD, it is Smith’s job is to protect and provide security for the commander when he goes on missions and into the community.
Smith said he likes his job and the opportunity it gives him to have more interaction with the Iraqi population.
“Most of the people are not here to do anything bad to us,” he said. “I like knowing that I am helping them.”
He also said he enjoys being able to talk with the Iraqi children. “They remind me of my cousins back home,” he said after giving several children pieces of candy that he keeps in his pocket for them.
Since the company’s arrival, the soldiers have been involved in numerous outreach programs in the Taji community, northwest of Baghdad.
“Things seem to be going great right now, but there is always room for improvement,” Smith said.
(Army Sgt. Brad Willeford serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.)