03 February 2010

Wounded Warrior returns to West Point as WTU Commander

Army Capt. Scott M. Smiley salutes 1st Sgt. Deon E. Dabrio after returning the guidon during the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Unit change of command ceremony at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., Feb. 1, 2010. Smiley is the first blind officer and second wounded warrior to hold a position of command. U.S. Army photo by Tommy Gilligan.

Capt. Scott M. Smiley is a Soldier, infantryman, Airborne Ranger, combat diver, mountain climber, skier, tri-athlete, surfer, husband, father, and now Company Commander of West Point's Warrior Transition Unit.

He's also blind.

Smiley was wounded and permanently lost his vision during his 2005 deployment to Iraq. He attributes his strength and drive during his recovery to his family, faith and friends.

“It was my wife, my family and friends who were in my hospital room singing songs and reading the Bible that gave me the strength during my recovery,” said Smiley, a member of the USMA Class of 2003.

“It was all of this which allowed me to put one foot in front of the other,” he continued, “and has allowed me to accomplish everything that I have done to get to where I am today.”

Over the past six months, Smiley had been an instructor with the academy’s Behavioral Sciences and Leadership department, teaching a leadership course to third-year cadets.

Smiley’s “endurable spirit and character are traits that the cadets can just relate to,” said West Point instructor Lt. Col. Eric Kail. “He has overcome so much, through his attitude and desire to excel in life. Scott is a great teacher.”

After receiving medical attention following his tour in Iraq, Smiley was transferred to the Ft. Lewis, Wash., Warrior Transition Unit, where he began his recovery and journey to return to active status.

"There were some very long dark days, physically and mentally, but I just had to keep pushing on," Smiley said.

Smiley transitioned back to active duty, working at the U.S. Army Accessions Command at Ft. Monroe, Va. After being there for some time, Smiley's commander told him he had been selected to go to graduate school.

"I thought he was kidding me. I was absolutely shocked," Smiley recalled. "Then, they are going to let me go teach -- that was awesome.”

Smiley attended Duke University where he received his Masters of Business Administration.

After completing his master’s degree, Smiley returned to start a new chapter of his life at West Point, where his military career began in the summer of 1999.

Smiley is the second Wounded Warrior to hold a command position. In June of 2009, Lt. Col. Danny Dudek assumed command of the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Lewis.

1 comment:

FbL said...

That is just so awesome. I remember Smiley from a news article about blind skiers years ago. I was so impressed with him, and it's great to see that he has recovered so well. Just awesome.