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    Alabama Guardsman Gives Extra For Local, Military Community

    Alabama Guardsman Gives Extra For Local, Military Community

    Photo By Sgt. H. Marcus McGill | MEGIDIA, Romania. – Spc. Joshua Smith, Area Support Group-Black Sea, Religious...... read more read more

    MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU, ROMANIA

    01.04.2021

    Story by Sgt. H. Marcus McGill 

    319th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU, Romania – The Alabama National Guard and Romania have a partnership that goes back more than two decades. Through this relationship, Alabama assists Romania in enhancing military operability and increasing capabilities to support deploying troops while demonstrating high levels of interoperability among NATO Allies. Not only does the partnership have tremendous military benefits for the United States, Romania, and the state of Alabama, through the work of one Alabama Guardsman, Romanian lives and the lives of U.S. Soldiers are being changed.

    Spc. Joshua Smith, with the Alabama National Guard, serves as the Religious Affairs non-commissioned officer in charge for Area Support Group-Black Sea, and is afforded the unique opportunity to directly impact both the local Romanian community and the Soldiers he serves through his job with the Religious Support Team. By positively affecting the lives of these people, he is able to help the U.S. Army and NATO accomplish their mission and strengthen relationships with host-nation citizens.

    “I love everything about my job, especially doing outreach. Being able to support both Soldiers and the community that's outside this base is great. I feel extra motivation when it comes to going out and helping other people,” said Smith. “When we help the community, we're also helping the Soldiers who get to go out and help those kids. It's a huge morale booster and really helps them gain perspective. Not only do I get to see it first hand, I am helping the Soldiers to see the impact we can make.”

    Smith's efforts to help Soldiers reach out to the local community resulted in partnerships with Stepping Stone Missions, the Romanian Salvation Army, and two nearby orphanages, or “placement centers,” as they are known in Romania.

    “Spc. Smith is great to work with. He is professional, eager, creative, and always looking for ways to help others,” said Capt. Greg Caruso, Team Chief, Civil Affairs Team 3231, 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion. “He finds solutions to problems, and his compassion for others is evident.”

    According to Caruso, Smith played a major role in the recent Angel Tree project with Salvation Army Romania. Not only did 125 children receive donated clothing and toys for Christmas, the Salvation Army was able to surpass their overall goal and reached 300 kids this holiday season.

    “He provided publicity and was a valuable source of information for Soldiers and leaders at MK who wanted to know more about the project. He also helped with collection and storage of gifts,” said Caruso.

    Smith is the first in his family to serve in the military. However, he credits much of his drive and hard work toward what he has achieved in the Army to lessons he learned from family and people from the local community while growing up in Clay County, Al.

    “My county has a rich tradition of military service. Seeing people outside my family, my neighbors and others joining the Army influenced me,”said Smith. “I take the pride I have in my family and what my grandfathers and father taught me and see how I can grow and not only better myself with my service, but how I can make the Army better also.”

    According to Smith, that strong pride in his state and local community was a heavy factor in his decision to join the Alabama National Guard.
    “I loved the idea that with the Guard not only could I serve my country abroad, I could serve my local community and my state,” he said.

    Spc. Smith draws an easy comparison between the love for serving both his state and his nation to the fact that he gets to serve both Soldiers and local citizens here in Romania.

    “When I leave drill on the weekend, I get to go back into the local community at home and minister to them,” he said. “That's kind of the same thing we do here. We are here for the Soldiers, but we also go out into the community to touch the lives of local people.”

    His love for the work he does here along the Black Sea led him to extend his time, and when he leaves Romania in Aug. he will have served 19 months here. His reason for extending is similar to the reason he chose his job in the Army in the first place.

    “I wanted to be in the Army but also do something that I knew was in my heart. That meant not only wearing the uniform, but doing good for others while wearing it,” said Smith. “I felt like as a chaplain assistant enlisted Soldier I would have the best opportunity to serve others.”

    When Maj. Marshall Chavez, Senior Chaplain, Area Support Group-Black Sea recently arrived on post he needed to find out what people thought of the religious affairs office. According to Chavez, everyone from Sergeants Major, to military police, to the fire department was quick to praise Smith for the work he's done.

    “He held down the garrison religious affairs position without a chaplain for two months,” said Maj. Chavez, “He's got a good work ethic and a good heart. At the end of the day, he genuinely is concerned for the well-being of everybody that he comes into contact with.”

    The two have been working together for a little less than a month. However, as is the case with many of the people with whom Smith encounters, he has already made a significant impression on his new supervisor.

    “I am working with a young man who has a lot of motivation, skill, and dedication. He is a guy who has a great deal of potential and I want to do everything I can to help him be successful,” said Chavez. “I have these big plans, and he is the one who can execute them. He's the guy that knows who to call to get what we need to get it done.”

    With all the important work he does here, combined with the accolades he receives from so many, you would think it could all go to Smith's head. To hear him talk, it appears quite the opposite is true.

    “These kids I get to work with, it's such a blessing to me. When they see you get out of the car and run up and hug you and call your name, you realize how much it means to them,” said Smith. “I am humbled by the fact that I represent the U.S. Army, the Chaplain Corps, the Alabama National Guard and the state of Alabama. So when I put on this uniform, I am no longer an individual, I represent things that are so much bigger than myself.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 01.04.2021
    Date Posted: 01.04.2021 11:34
    Story ID: 386396
    Location: MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU, RO 

    Web Views: 497
    Downloads: 1

    PUBLIC DOMAIN