Faces From the Front for April 20, 2009 - Staff Sgt. Richard Smith
Current Unit: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division
Current Position: Fire Support Specialist
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Baghdad, Iraq
Hometown: Tulsa, Okla.
Years of Service: 18
Currently deployed to Baghdad, Iraq for the second time, Staff Sgt. Richard Smith is a fire support specialist assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. A seasoned Noncommissioned Officer, Smith has found this deployment to be quite different from his last to Iraq. Even with 18 years of service between the Army and National Guard, Smith says he is learning and using new skills and tactics as his mission evolves with the objectives of the war itself.
Now working as part of a civil affairs team, Smith helps the citizens of eastern Baghdad rebuild markets and schools in some of the city's most poverty-stricken areas in order to re-establish the region's economy and educational systems. Smith said although the change from conducting combat operations as an artillery man to now assisting in humanitarian efforts has been an adjustment, it is a change he welcomes.
"We are helping the Iraqi people so one day they can help themselves," he said. "It has been quite a change that I have gone from conducting raids to catch bad guys during my first deployment to now working with the general population on daily concerns they have."
During his deployment in 2003, Smith was involved in several firefights. He was awarded an Army Commendation Medal with Valor for helping stop an ambush on his fellow Soldiers.
Smith is not the only member of his family to answer the call to serve. His grandfather served as an Army Air Corps pilot during World War II, his father served in the Army and his uncles served in the Navy and Air Force.
As a father of two, Smith looks forward to returning home in the winter to be with his family. Smith is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree and plans to attend Jumpmaster school after his deployment.