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Angels in our Midst (Jim Smith)
From humble beginnings, he rose through the ranks to serve his country for more than three decades.
In retirement, he has signed on for a lifetime hitch doing the service of an Angel in our Midst.
He walks the halls of Warrington Middle School with all the bearing of a proud Marine. Retired Colonel Jim Smith is still serving. only this time, he's helping his troops maneuver through life.
Col. Jim Smith, USMC (RET); "I was the first person in my family to graduate from high school and to go on to college. So, I had to study really, really hard and I remember that I had nobody to motivate me.
And I said I would just like to work with kids and try to share what I've learned over the years."
Darin; "Talking about his life, I just knew I had a great mentor."
After 31 years in the Marines, Colonel Smith has been mentoring students for more than 10 years now; most recently through the S.T.R.I.D.E and the Take Stock in Children Volunteer programs. He's watched Darin Redick improve to the A-B Honor Roll.
Jim; "He knows that if he continues to do well in school and attends school on a regular basis and stays out of trouble, four years from now, he'll have a scholarship to any school in the state of Florida he desires to go to."
Darin Redick; 8th Grader; "He's, like, really been helping me keep on the right track for school; like making sure that my behavior and grades are up."
Jim; "Mentoring is almost like being an officer in the Marine Corps, being a leader, that you have all of these young men and women come from all difference places and you try to make their time in the Marine Corps one that's positive and one that they will look back and say, Gosh, I'm glad I passed that way."
And like those young Marines, his mentees are glad they had the opportunity to pass under Colonel Smith's influence. They learn more than what's in the textbooks.
Darin; "It's just, like, amazing that he could stay with the military and serve his country for over half his life and show that much commitment."
Jim; "You just continue to serve and continue to volunteer and hope you're making a positive impression on somebody's life."
Colonel Smith's own commitment is re-enforced by some of the very troops he led.
JIm; "When I joined the Marine Corps, it was during the time that there was a draft but when I left, they were all volunteers. And they were some of the best marines and sailors that I'd ever seen before in my life. Young men and women willing to sacrifice and give their life for their country when they didn't have to."
Sacrifice and service that for many does not end when the uniform is put away.
Angels in our Midst is brought to you by Sacred Heart Children's Hospital.