Soldier Returns After 15-Year Break to be Close to Troops
(April 10, 2009)
Army Staff Sgt. Dianne Smith, right, an administrative soldier in the 3rd Military Intelligence Battlion, talks about her return to the Army noncommissioned officer corps after a 15-year break in service with Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston and 8th U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Winzenried at Humphreys Garrison, South Korea.
||U.S. ARMY GARRISON
HUMPHREYS, South Korea, April 3, 2009 – Some
people just can't get the military out of their
system – nor do they want to.
That is the case with Staff Sgt. Dianne Smith,
who has re-joined the Army after a 15-year break
as a way to show her patriotism and sense of
duty to her country again during a troubled
Smith, an intelligence analyst with 3rd Military
Intelligence Battalion, recently returned to
active duty to share her experience and
leadership skills with new enlisted soldiers.
She completed basic training at Fort McClellan,
Ala. – then the Army Women's Corps headquarters
-- in 1978. Following advanced individual
training and her initial assignments in 1984,
she found herself stationed at Yongin, South
Korea, where she met her husband, Tim. They have
been married 25 years.
"I was a signal intelligence analyst
during my first 13 years of active-duty service, but the
best job I had before I got out was platoon sergeant," Smith
said. "This is the job that epitomizes the noncommissioned
officer position or me, and why I've come back." |
Platoon sergeants, she added, have hands-on, direct contact
"You are the first one to know if your soldiers have
problems, or if they've accomplished something, and I love
being connected with troops,” she said. “And next to [being
a] sergeant major, I believe this is the best job in the
After training at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., last year, Smith
rejoined the Army's military intelligence community.
Returning to South Korea for her first active-duty tour in
25 years has been more than a typical overseas duty
assignment, she said.
"My husband and I met while serving here in 1984, and it's
like a homecoming," she said. "Returning to active duty
after all these years was a major commitment I could have
never made without his unwavering support."
During her early years of Army service, Smith had mentors
who now are nearly gone from the Army rolls: Vietnam
"They taught me a lot of things about what I could actually
do, what I could endure, and what I could accomplish and
overcome," she said. "When I began my first Army enlistment,
I was a scared kid from Kentucky. And I was pushed beyond
what I thought I could do, but found out I could do far
“To see soldiers like I was who come in today and don't have
confidence in what they can do or are not aware of what they
do,” she continued, “my job as an NCO is to push them and
encourage them, because we can do so much more than we
In November, Smith met here with an NCO whose service
predates her own. Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston
has served since 1975.
"SMA Preston asked me about why I came back in, and he
encouraged me and welcomed me back into the NCO corps," she
said. "I've met many successful people in my life, but I was
as nervous as I could be, because he is the sergeant major
of the Army, and the one who sets the bar for all of us and
who we all strive to be.
“It was an honor for this old soldier to have those few
minutes with him,” she said. “There was an understanding of
all the things that are not needed to be said - because we
were Army then, and we are Army now, and we're still hanging
Once you've been a soldier, you have a connection with
people, and no matter where you go, you share a bond because
you have served, Smith said.
"I've worn a lot of different clothes to work, but there's
nothing like putting on this uniform [and] being proud of
it. ... “It's the best job in the world, and I will continue
to do the job my soldiers deserve up until the day I retire
from the Army."
Smith added that female soldiers must respect themselves,
treat everyone else with respect and take nothing less.
"Being a female in the military should never be used as an
excuse to be less than absolutely all you can be,” she said.
“We're fellow soldiers, and we drive on."
Smith said she plans to retire in 2013, and she wants caring
for soldiers to be her legacy.
“I want to know without a shadow of a doubt that I took care
of my soldiers,” Smith said. “I'm going to be that old
veteran in the wheelchair at parades waving the American
flag, proud of our soldiers marching through."
photo by Ken Hall
Humphreys Garrison public affairs office
American Forces Press Service
Forces Press Service / DoD
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