East Brunswick, NJ – Anthony J. Smith spent many years trying to find himself and something that ignited his passions. He would enroll in college, quit after a semester, take some time off, and enroll in a new school; then the cycle would start again. One day when Smith was at Beefsteak Charlie’s in East Brunswick with a group of friends, Desert Storm was being broadcast on televisions all over the restaurant. The next day, Smith went down to a recruiting office and signed into the army. Basic training began at Fort Knox and then continued at Fort Polk in Louisiana. Smith stated that, “I spent the first twelve years of my army career training to fight.” Though he was deployed to Bosnia and Somalia for the countries’ respective conflicts, Smith said that each conflict was “practically over in minutes” and that “fighting seemed to stop as soon as we got there.”Following these short deployments, Smith had success in his personal life. He married in August of 1992 and then had three children. In 1997, Smith was sent to Korea with the option of fulfilling a 1-year tour or an 18-month tour while the ability to choose his next duty station. Smith chose the 1-year tour because he had just had his third child and did not want to be away from his family for longer than one year. Luckily, following his year in Korea, he got to go to Fort Stewart which would have been his first choice of a duty station anyway. Fort Stewart is always a place that Smith will consider home. As he was moving up the ranks in the army, Smith and his team were sent to Kuwait for four months. During this time, Smith gained additional knowledge about how to serve his country and impressed his leaders who watched him grow. Smith and his team returned from Kuwait in 1998. One year passed before he was ordered to go to Bosnia. Here, he focused on civilian and contingency operations as well as security training. He and his team took over the security of the area by controlling access points and looking down over the area from tall towers. September 11, 2001 everything would change! He was sent to Uzbekistan, a country to the north of Afghanistan. He was then sent back to Kuwait while the war was still happening in Afghanistan. He crossed the border into Iraq in March 2003 and secured all of the palaces in Iraq. At first, Americans were applauded and celebrated by Iraqis in Baghdad, the nation’s capital, who knew Americans were there to help. The Iraqis were very poor and it made Smith and his fellow army men recognize how good life in the USA was. Next, Smith was sent to Fallujah, a small town with very little in it besides connecting two major interstates. Iraqis in Fallujah hated Americans so much that one day Smith and his team were attacked. Thankfully, they all survived. Smith was sent back to Iraq and lived there for two and a half years, which he describes as “absolute hell.” From the years of 2007 to 2009, Iraqis looked at Americans with such disdain that they would not talk to them, they would not look at them, and would not sell anything to them. As Smith was about to continue with his stories, he realized that he was late to pick up his children from college for the weekend. His losing track of time is attributed to the fun and enjoyment he has looking back on his time as an army veteran. It is a career that Smith looks back on warmly.
Written by Travis Dunham