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    An Alaska Frame of Mind: The Life and Times of CW2 Michael Smith

    CW2 Michael Smith with Moose in Creamer's Field, Fairbanks, AK

    Photo By 1st Lt. Austen Bouska | CW2 Michael Smith with the Moose he harvested at Creamer's Field in Fairbanks, Alaska.... read more read more



    Story by 1st Lt. Austen Bouska 

    1st Brigade, 11th Airborne Division

    In his normal day-to-day work schedule, CW2 Michael Smith spends his time measuring out motor pools for future Winter Maintenance Facilities, conducting spill response training with different battalions, or even testing new Cold Weather Equipment. As the Task Force Reserve Brigade engineer for 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division (1/25 SBCT) US Army Alaska and as a 120A MOS (Construction Engineer and Technician) he is the brigade’s main problem solver for anything engineering related. This can be quite a challenging task for an engineer assigned in an arctic environment like Alaska. “Once we get into the negative digits you know, plastics, rubber, and metal all become more brittle especially on military equipment that is getting used in a more rough and rigorous manner.” He says. CW2 Smith admits that this actually adds to his work experience in a positive way. “I love the challenging problem set that Alaska can bring. It keeps my work interesting and exciting.” His positive attitude and motivation for his job in conditions that can sometimes bring others to have the opposite reaction, makes CW2 Smith a crucial member of the Task Force Reserve Team. Especially, during a year where the Fort Wainwright area experienced one of the coldest winters since the late 1990s. CPT Chandler Alford, Operations Officer for the Task Force Reserve 1/25 SBCT, who is also an engineer summed it up best. “Whenever Chief Smith walks into a room, he brings a smile and joy to those around him. His professionalism as a competent and hardworking engineer in both tactical environments and working with on-post construction projects exemplifies what every senior leader should have in their formation. I can always count on Chief to bring me his best.”

    During the summer months in his spare time, CW2 Smith can be found taking advantage of the 24 hours of day light and over 6,600 miles of coastline that the Last Frontier has to offer. His wife and their two son’s ages 4 and 10 love spending this time together catching different fish. “I love traveling to the coast. My favorite places are Kodiak, Homer, and Seward. Kodiak Island has a Coast Guard Base on it and you can rent kayaks from their MWR program if you show them your military ID. Then in Homer I actually befriended a local charter fisherman who takes me and my family to some of the best fishing spots that a lot of people don’t know about.” By the time he is done stocking up his freezer with salmon, rockfish, and halibut the weather begins to chill again. With the cooler temperatures the fishing season ends and CW2 Smith sets his focus on looking forward to moose season opening in the interior. CW2 Smith has hunted for moose and black bear during his time in Alaska. “Over by Creamer’s Field in the Fairbanks area I was able to get a moose last year. That has been one of my most favorite memories thus far. Creamer’s Field is a beautiful place to go and explore any time of year.” He also mentions that hunting and fishing are not the only activities him and his family enjoy. “I just love taking my family out to Chena Hot Springs. I recommend going in the morning, it can be really peaceful and relaxing.”

    When asked what some of the misconceptions are about being stationed in Alaska, CW2 Smith, firmly stated “The cold really isn’t that bad. You can always add more layers the colder it gets and the military gives us the absolute best cold weather gear that money can buy.” He continued, “However, people have to realize that this place is not like the lower 48 and never will be. There is an Alaska frame of mind here and one of those is that nature is the boss. You have got to respect it and when you do respect nature you will be able to be safe and enjoy yourself.” CW2 Smith has enjoyed his time so much in Alaska that he plans on eventually retiring in the 49th state. “I have another assignment that I’ll be reporting to in the lower 48 in the coming months. Once I complete that I plan on retiring and moving my family to Homer.” CW2 Michael Smith’s motivation towards his job and his enthusiasm about living in Alaska is a source for inspiration for everyone who is lucky enough to work with him. He represents the best of the best from the “Arctic Wolves” of 1/25 SBCT and is most certainly, Arctic Tough!



    Date Taken: 04.13.2020
    Date Posted: 04.14.2020 00:32
    Story ID: 367306
    Location: FORT WAINWRIGHT, AK, US 
    Hometown: HOMER, AK, US

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