Then-Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Smith, 326th Training Squadron military training instructor, speaks to a trainee going through basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in April 2010. Smith served as an MTI for four years before moving to McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., and eventually becoming an Airman Leadership School instructor. Courtesy photoMCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan., March 17, 2016 — Joshua Smith was 17-years-old and starting to earn a reputation for skipping his high school math class every afternoon when he was called into his guidance counselor’s office. The most surprising part of the meeting for Smith was seeing his visibly distressed mother in the office.
“My mom was on the verge of tears, because they were so close to kicking me out for missing so many days of school,” said Smith, who’s now an Air Force technical sergeant and an Airman Leadership School instructor for the 22nd Force Support Squadron here almost 15 years later.
The guidance counselor tried to figure out the cause of the situation, and Smith explained that there was very little learning happening in class. Instead, the teacher was allowing students to cheat and copy from each other without consequences.
Lt. Col. Gregory Rooker, provost marshal for Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., practices Wado-Ryu karate at Coronado Beach in San Diego, Calif. Rooker holds a sixth-degree black belt in karate after 31 years of studying the style.MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif., March 22, 2016 — Before most of the junior-enlisted Marines serving under him were born, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Gregory Rooker started on a journey to become part of an elite group of warriors.
Now 31 years into that journey, Rooker, the provost marshal here, is among an elite few who hold the title of sixth-degree black belt in Wado-Ryu karate.
Wado-Ryu, a mixture of Shinto-Yoshin-Ryu jujitsu and karate, was developed on mainland Japan in the early 1900s. It consists of eight belt levels with three degrees of brown and 10 degrees of black.
When he was 15 years old, Rooker asked his parents to enroll him in karate classes at a nearby community college for his birthday.
“It’s definitely one of the best presents I have ever gotten,” he said. “It’s been a gift that keeps on giving, that’s for sure.”
Texas Army National Guard members Maj. George Hurd, left, Staff Sgt. Erdoo Thompson, center, and 1st Lt. Matthew Verdugo, all from the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, load bottled water in Round Rock, Texas, in preparation for Hurd's convoy to Flint, Michigan, March 10, 2016. Texas Army National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Daniel Griego.ROUND ROCK, Texas, March 23, 2016 — As the Flint water crisis enters its third month, one Texas Army National Guard soldier decided to step up and directly help the people most affected with a road trip to Michigan.
More than two months ago, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency for Flint, Michigan, in response to the ongoing water crisis that has exposed up to 12,000 children to contaminated drinking water. Since then, private donations have poured in to support the community suffering from long-term lead poisoning. For Maj. George Hurd, a Texas guardsman and combat veteran, sitting idly was not an option.
"Part of it comes from my experience overseas in Egypt, Iraq and Afghanistan, where we gave out bottled water to children all across that region," Hurd said. "When I sat back and became more aware of what was going on in Flint and seeing the disaster that's going on up there, I just thought there wasn't enough attention. It affected me to the core and instead of just complaining about it, I decided to do something about it."
Army Staff Sgt. Tiffany Rodriguez-Rexroad, Warrior Transition Battalion, Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, works to improve her shot put skills during a training session Feb. 28, 2016. More than 100 wounded, ill and injured soldiers and veterans were at Fort Bliss, Texas, to train and compete in a series of athletic events including archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, and wheelchair basketball to help in determining who will get a spot on the Army team for the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games. Army photo by Ronald Wolf. FORT BLISS, Texas, March 14, 2016 — Army Staff Sgt. Tiffany Rodriguez-Rexroad’s goals in participating in the Army Trials here for the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games were to heal and to remain on active duty.
Rodriguez-Rexroad was injured in December when as a pedestrian she was hit by a truck. She’s since had hip-replacement surgery and is recovering.
She was at the 2016 U.S. Army Trials trying out for the team for the first time, competing in cycling and field events such as shot put and air rifle marksmanship. Rodriguez-Rexroad is unable to participate in other events such as sitting volleyball until she fully recovers from her surgery.
She is assigned to the Brooke Army Medical Center, Warrior Transition Battalion, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Her hometown is Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, which she proudly claims has a population of 85.