Heath Smith enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1999. He attended boot camp in Parris Island, S.C., School of Infantry at Camp Geiger, N.C. and then was later stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif. He was deployed twice to the Middle East. On the second round, in March 2003, he led a Marine Corps infantry team into combat, fighting in the battle of Umm Qasr (the first battle of the Iraq War) and the battle of Nasiriyah.
What drew you to enlist?
My grandfather was a Marine in World War II. And I’m from a tiny, nothing town in Tennessee and couldn’t wait to get out.
How has your military service influenced who you are today?
I have maintained much of the structure learned during my time in the Corps. My experiences in Iraq and working in veteran services has made me staunchly anti-war, as I have seen the negative consequences and destruction armed conflict leaves in its wake.
When it comes to discussing service with a veteran, what advice would you offer citizens who have not served?
To remain sympathetic to those who have served this county no matter the political climate of the times they served or the conflicts in which they were involved. There are many selfless people who have served and continue to serve.