Student studies business between deployments to both combat zones

IUS Horizon

jonsmithgardiz02-editedWEBJon Smith, business freshman and mail services employee, said his deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq has given him life experience and a better understanding of his military mission that cannot be absorbed from a textbook.

“I got to actually see what I had read about in books,” Smith said.

Smith’s first deployment for the Army National Guard was to Afghanistan in 2004.

Smith went there as an infantryman and his military mission was force protection.

He was stationed in a small military outpost in Gardiz. Gardiz is located south of Kabul, near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Smith was there from July 2004 to August 2005 and aided in the security of supplies being shipped between bases.

He said one of the most positive and memorable experiences he encountered while being in Afghanistan was witnessing the Afghanistan elections.

“I saw democracy being born,” Smith said. “It was great to be a part of.”

Smith said he saw Afghanis standing in line for hours to vote.

“I saw freedom and liberty,” Smith said, “which is something they didn’t have while under Taliban control.”

Smith returned home and was employed by the IUS Physical Plant in 2006, as part of the grounds crew.

Smith also continued his Indiana Army National Guard required training of one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer.

His next deployment was to Iraq in 2008, which was the largest deployment for an Indiana National Guard unit since World War II.

Smith was stationed at Camp Liberty in Baghdad, northeast of the Baghdad International Airport.

There, he was a cavalry scout that performed main supply route security and escorted contractors and shipments between the airport and surrounding bases.

“There was a lot of adrenaline pumping and heart racing,” Smith said, “but we’re trained through muscle memory.”

Muscle memory is a physiological change that occurs through repetitive training, benefiting soldiers who rely on their training and not on an emotional reaction in intense situations.

“I believe in our mission there. We’re doing good work,” Smith said.

Smith was in Iraq for nine months and returned home Thanksgiving Day in 2008.

His job at the Physical Plant was held for him while he was deployed.

He returned to his job and began his first semester as a student at IU Southeast in the spring of 2009.

Smith is also the director and coordinator of the new recycling program on campus that was implemented this semester, which he said has been successful.

Jim Wolfe, director of Physical Plant, said Smith is a hard worker and dedicated to his work.

“He seems to be successful at multitasking and handling it all,” Wolfe said.

Smith has been with the Indiana Army National Guard for eight years and is an E-4 Specialist.

He said he plans on retiring after twenty years of service.

Smith joined the Army National Guard while a junior in high school in his hometown of Austin, Ind.

“Payment for college was a primary factor when I joined,” Smith said.

He is utilizing the new Post 9/11 GI Bill, which covers his tuition, books and housing expenses.

Smith is also married and is expecting his first child.

Currently, he is stateside and is an ammunition specialist for the Indiana Army National Guard.

He has no orders for a deployment but is prepared when called upon.

“It’s certainly a possibility,” Smith said.

Staff Writer