Marine Aviator on Lessons Learned in the Corps

Marine Aviator on Lessons Learned in the Corps

1stLt Stephen Smith, V-22 Osprey pilot, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263, prepares for a training exercise at Morgan's Well training area aboard the Combat Center, Nov. 5, 2015. Photo by LCpl Connor Hancock.

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PAMNS, Calif. (November 12, 2015) – 1stLt Stephen Smith from Ferndale, Wash., serves as a V-22 Osprey pilot in Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263. Growing up in a military household, he became one of eight aviators in his family.

I come from a military family, in which, I am one of eight aviators. Growing up, I spent ten years in southern California because my dad was an artillery officer in Camp Pendleton.

The Marine Corps in particular was appealing to me because I'm generally idealistic and patriotic. I wanted the opportunity to lead, mentor and strive for excellence. I also wanted the opportunity to build mutual trust and those relationships where I can help people on a daily basis. The Marine Corps offers a sense of adventure to see and do things most people can't do.

When I was looking into college, I spent a long time going through the course catalogue. I couldn't decide between the 20 courses I wanted to study. I ended up majoring in Public Relations at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. I got my master's degree in Pastoral studies.

I'm going to go back to school again to continue to learn about the various disciplines and interests that I have.

My hobbies mostly involve being outdoors. My wife and I enjoy going sailing and snowboarding together. I like adrenaline and the challenge of snowboarding. You can make what you want of it, finding jumps or making your own trials. I snowboard primarily in the Northwest. I usually go to Mt. Baker, Mt. Hood and Mt. Bachelor.

I remember when we had a record amount of snow in Washington. The mountain staff had to carve out snow from underneath the lifts because there wasn't enough clearance. It was a fun week.

I have four kids: two boys and two girls. The oldest is five years old and my youngest is one. My kids and I rock climb together and I enjoy teaching them what I can, which led me to coach my daughter's soccer team. My goal is to raise my kids up in a way that they can improve their circle of influence and excel in wherever they're placed or whatever they do. I want to give them the guidance they need to take initiative and grow, instead of just riding the trajectory of the environment they're in.

I want to impact those around me also so I also mentor the youth in my church in my free time. I plan on staying in the Marine Corps for at least ten years, but I'll take note of the impact it has on my family. If it's too much for them, I'll take what I've learned and apply it somewhere else. If the family is supportive and it looks like the right thing, I'm not opposed to continuing on. My family is the number one responsibility and stewardship I have.

The Marine Corps has taught me a lot, but I have a lot to learn. This may sound cliché, but one thing I've learned is at the end of the day, you've got to do the right thing for the right reason even if some people around you aren't willing to agree.

I'm looking for more opportunities to lead, but I value from watching others who lead well and learning from them. Some people have leadership inclinations but no one is a 100 percent natural leader. There's always room to learn. A day that goes by without learning something new is a day wasted, no one knows who said it, but it sure holds a lot of truth.

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