Oklahoma Soldier Checks In From Baghdad

Thursday, April 23rd 2009, 4:36 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

BAGHDAD, IRAQ -- Hundreds of Oklahoma men and women are serving in Iraq, including Jenks High School graduate Staff Sergeant Richard Smith.  He spoke with The News On 6 from Baghdad via satellite on Thursday.

Sgt. Smith comes from a military family and has served in the Army for nearly two decades.  Smith is on his second tour in Iraq and going on 18 years in the military.

The 1991 Jenks High School graduate says he was born to serve his country.  It is part of his family legacy.

"My father, my grandfather, and two uncles served in the military. My dad was in the Army. I've always been a big fan of putting on a uniform.  I've always liked camouflage," said SSgt. Richard Smith.

Smith works in Iraq as a fire support specialist.  Lately, he's been part of a large team of U.S. servicemen and women, doing humanitarian work in the country.

He helps distribute books, rebuild schools, and make sure the water is clean and the food is plenty.  He says his role is to help the Iraqis be prepared for when the troops go home.

He was asked if he thinks once the military leaves Iraq that the Iraqi people can take over?

"Yeah, they're doing it now. They're taking over on their own now and when we do finally pull out of the country, I'm pretty confident they'll be able to take care of themselves," said SSgt. Richard Smith.

Smith's wife and two young children live in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, but his mother and other family members still live here in northeast Oklahoma.

Before saying goodbye, he wanted to pass on a special message to his loved ones, especially his mom.

"I know I haven't called in a while, but I just wanted to let you know that I love you and let my sister know that I love her as well," said SSgt. Richard Smith.

Sgt. Smith is scheduled to return to North Carolina in December.