When Charles Smith joined the military America was in a time of peace. The assistant athletic director at Tyler Junior College joined in order to receive financial help to pay for college.

Smith also wanted to be patriotic and show his pride for his country.

His training while in the Air Force Reserves was somewhat basic, mostly involving field training. However, before being sent to Iraq, he received more combat and convoy training so that he would be fully prepared to leave for overseas.

Smith had been serving abroad since September 2007. While in Iraq, his duties included building roads, helping to build houses, and other civil engineering projects. His unit primarily focused on the many engineering projects that came about during the war.

“When you’re home, you begin to take for granted all the little things that you just expect to be there,” said Smith. “But after going over there and seeing how little those people had, I began to appreciate things like my family and friends and how much they really mean to me.”

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