A ‘Major’ Change

Rider JROTC starts off the year with a new Senior Army Instructor

A 'Major' Change

Most days, Senior Army Instructor Robert Smith doesn’t just step into his car and spend 20 minutes travelling to work. He spends about one and a half hours and crosses a state border to teach his classes.

“I started getting information on JROTC about 2 years before my retirement and always, in some capacity, wanted to be a teacher/instructor,” Smith said. “When I was at FA-57 I was able to teach different classes to, usually, young privates and that got me interested in a teaching career after my military retirement.”

Smith had served a total time of 27 years in the military before retiring, 22 of them were army active duty and 5 in the national guard.

“I started off my military career enlisting in the national guard as a field artillery gunner,” Smith said, “After I was enlisted for 3 years, I went through ROTC at Central Washington University and joined back as an officer.”

During his time in college, Smith was participating in the national guard’s simultaneous membership program.

“I would go to college, and one weekend a month I would do my National Guard duties,” Smith said. “I had spent 5 years doing that and went active duty.”

Smith tried to experience other jobs, but he was signed into field artillery.

“I had so much training in field artillery that they put me back into that field,” Smith said. “I still enjoyed my time in it.”

Smith eventually was able to transfer jobs into simulation training.

“I was able to switch branches into simulation operations in FA-57,” Smith said. “I was either working computer exercises or in a planning cell, planning those exercises.”

Smith and his wife eventually decided to settle down.

“My last duty assignment was Ft.Sill, Oklahoma, and we wanted to grow roots there,” Smith said. “When I got interested in JROTC, that’s when Wichita Falls came into mind.”

The similarities in the area and the proximity to Ft.Sill made it easier to transition again.

“We’re making the transition from there to Wichita Falls maybe next summer,” Smith said. “I want to make sure I like the job and so far I’m loving it, so our plan is to purchase a home here.”

Without a home here, Smith has to make plans for late activities.

“Occasionally, when we do afternoon or weekend things, I used to stay at a friend’s house who took a job at Hirschi High School.” Smith said. “He didn’t last and moved away, so now I usually stay at a hotel overnight.”

One of the reasons Smith likes the job he has with JROTC is because he is able to spend time with his wife.

“Now I’m able to have holidays and summer vacations off work,” Smith said. “I don’t have to request leave like I had to do in the military, so I now have more time to spend with the person I care most about.”