Petty Officer 3rd Class Amber Smith, an orthopedic technician assigned to the Expeditionary Medical Facility Kuwait, examines and removes a splint off of Sgt. Gregory Cosby's finger on July 15, 2011. When the attacks on 9/11 took place, she was a senior at Kearney High School in San Diego, Calif. Third Army and the Navy at Camp Arifjan are working together to provide a medical facility for service members in the region. Joint service partnership benefits the region in sustaining the health and welfare of our service members. Photo by Army SSgt. Rauel Tirado
| ||CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait (8/25/2011) – On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Amber Smith, was a senior at Kearney High School in San Diego, Calif., and planned to enlist in the Navy after graduation.|
On that fateful morning, she woke up to the breaking news of the terrorist attacks and began watching the images on TV with her family.
"As I watched destruction and chaos on the screen, I could not believe what was happening," said Smith, who is now a Petty Officer 3rd Class assigned to the Expeditionary Medical Facility Kuwait.
“Is this real? How can this be happening at this moment of time?” said Smith in disbelief.
Smith said her family turned to her and asked, “Are you still planning on joining the Navy?”
Smith was now undecided about her future. Her family knew 9/11 was going to change the way of life in America and the lives of our service members.
That following day in school the topic was 9/11. The teacher in her government class was a veteran, said Smith.
“He spoke about the history of the events that lead up to attacks and what this would mean for the future of our military and country,” stated Smith.
Besides her, five other students in the class were planning to enlist in the military. The teacher took time to talk with them and let them know what to expect if they were to join.
“It became real all of sudden,” said Smith. “Before, I was thinking about enlisting in the Navy and sailing around the world. Now, I may go to war and maybe lose my life.”
Prior to 9/11, Smith was first inspired to enlist in the Navy because of her grandfather, Robert Smith Sr., who is a retired Navy corpsman and a Vietnam veteran. Her grandfather rarely spoke about his service in Vietnam. Like many others from the older generations, said Smith.
“It was my father who talked to me about the benefits of the military and opportunities the service has to offer,” mentioned Smith. “He wanted to enlist in the military himself, but never did.”
After graduation, Smith decided to put her plans for the Navy on hold. She enrolled in San Diego City College to study nursing. Many of her friends enlisted in the military. Also, living in San Diego she met a lot of service members who lived there.
“I met a lot of people who served in different branches of service and have gone overseas to war,” said Smith. “By talking to them and listening to their experiences, I was able to gauge what my life would be like in the military.”
After a year of college and putting her plans on hold for the military, Smith decided to join the Navy and serve her country.
“My grandfather is so proud of me,” said Smith. “Because of him, I would never think to enlist in another branch of service.”
In December 2003, she enlisted as a Navy corpsman. It took a year to go through the enlistment process and leave for basic training, she stated.
At the time, the Navy was in need of more male corpsmen than females. Smith wanted to be a corpsman following her grandfathers footsteps and would wait for a position to become available.
“I don't see myself doing anything but medical,” said Smith.
After basic training and schooling, her first duty station was in San Diego. She is now stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., but recently deployed to Kuwait this past spring.
She is the only orthopedic technician on camp and is on call 24/7. She sees patients from around the region including Iraq and Afghanistan. After the deployment, she plans to continue her college education at the University of North Carolina.
Smith said she is interested in NCU's Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
“She has great potential to excel within the Navy,” said Petty Officer 1st Class John Watkins, petty officer at EMF-K. “She contributes fresh ideas that will nurture today's Navy into the future as the world changes.”
After a few years of service, Smith reflects on 9/11 and what it has meant to her.
“For the younger generation in our country, this was a major event that happened in their lives,” said Smith. “I don't what people to lose sight on what happened that day. Ten years later, service members are still making the ultimate sacrifice and we must continue to recognize this everyday.”
Third Army and the Navy at Camp Arifjan are working together to provide a medical facility for service members in the region. Joint service partnership benefits the region in sustaining the health and welfare of our service members.
By Army Staff Sgt. Rauel Tirado
Third Army/U.S. Army Central PAO
Provided through DVIDS
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