CAMP SHELBY, Miss. - Preparing to deploy to Afghanistan with a true all-volunteer set of soldiers, 1st Lt. Jared Smith, field artillery officer and seventh-grade social studies teacher, said he is finally going to get to accomplish his lifelong goal of serving his country.
“I have always loved my country, and our military,” said Smith. “When I first joined, I joined because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, have a purpose greater than me. I didn’t want to be the bystander as the parade went by, or the person taking all of our freedom and way of life for granted, I wanted to be the person that helped preserve it.”
Leaving the love of his life, Bailey, and their "yip-yip" dog, Gabby, Smith said he spent his last few weeks at home preparing her and their new house for him leaving.
“We just bought our first house my last month home,” explains Smith. “So my last few weeks home were spent installing new locks, the security system, buying her a firearm and making sure she was comfortable shooting it and showing her how to do things I would normally take care of around the house.”
After only two years of marriage, Smith said that they found out he was deploying in the first six months of marriage. Loving to spend time and do almost everything together, Smith said now that the next year of deployment and being separated is actually here, although they will not like it, they are truly prepared for this upcoming year apart.
“I am more prepared for this because of her,” says Smith. “We have spent the last two and a half years never taking things for granted. And we genuinely just love spending time together: going on picnics, sitting in the sun, or at the mall people watching. I know she loves me and will be supporting me while I am gone, and will be waiting for me to come home to continue our life together.”
Coming home as a captain, and hoping to obtain battery commander upon his return, Smith said everything he has ever wanted to attain while serving in the military will be completed, and he will truly have a sense of satisfaction from his time in uniform.
Next in his life will be starting a family with Bailey.
“Our plan, initially, was to already be trying,” explains Smith. “But when the deployment came up, we decided to wait until I came home because that is huge in our life and I didn’t want to miss it, or have her go through that by herself. So once I come home, after I have accomplished my dream, we’ll start trying for our dream together.”
Although deployment, captain and battery commander has always been Smith’s goals since joining, he says that now as a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Putnam County Middle School, he wants to deploy to bring realism to his students outside of the text book.
Serving six years enlisted as a tanker with 1-108th Cavalry, and now as a field artillery officer, Smith says he will have lots to tell his children one day about what all opportunities the military offered him during his time in service, and during this deployment.