After returning home for the first time in 3 years, Sergeant Andrew Smith of the United States Marine Corps visited HMBS Coral Harbour where he sat and spoke with Acting Commander Defence Force, Captain Tellis Bethel. During Smith’s visit home, he had the privilege to speak with kids currently enrolled with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Rangers Youth Program. This opportunity was significant because Sergeant Smith himself is a product of the Defence Force Rangers Youth program.

In 2010, Sergeant Smith joined the Youth Program where he received some of his earliest training and military bearing. Some years later, after moving to the United States, Smith decided to become a Marine and consequently joined the United States Marine Corps.

During the interview, Smith reminisced on his time with the Defence Force Rangers program, as well as the the YEAST program that was held in Andros. Sergeant Smith stated that his most influential instructors were Leading Seaman Kelsey Missick and Chief Petty Officer Stanley Pitt. He said they were direct motivating factors that got him through his US military training. “He’s [Missick] my hero. I’m not just saying that because he’s here, but when I joined the Marines, I said I have to be better than Mr. Missick and Mr. Pitt. They are the reasons why I worked hard.”

Upon successfully completing Boot Camp as an Honor Graduate, Smith became a Private First Class. Since then, he served as a black belt Martial Arts Instructor, teaching Marines hand-to-hand combat and has also advanced through the ranks of Lance Corporal, Corporal and now a Sergeant. Smith is currently stationed in California and will soon be preparing for a 6-9 month tour of duty in Iraq early 2016.

When asked by Captain Bethel about future plans for his life, Sergeant Smith expressed that after dedicating his years to the US Marine Corps, he wants to open a health and fitness business tying in his two interests, bodybuilding and cooking. Sergeant Smith has won numerous awards for bodybuilding in the United States and also has earned an Associate’s degree in Culinary Arts.

After sharing some of his accomplishments with Captain Bethel, Captain Bethel commended Sergeant Smith for his achievements and the Rangers Instructors for the “tremendous job” they are doing with our nation’s youth. Captain Bethel also shared that there is an ongoing effort to ensure that young rangers are marketable and employable in the commercial maritime field, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force or any other government agency after completing the Ranger Program.

In closing, Captain Bethel stated, “There is mich more to come to ensure that RBDF Rangers experience a more holistic development and to set the standard of excellence for the young people in the country.”

The Royal Bahamas Defence remains committed to “Guarding Our Heritage” and the sovereignty of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

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