149th Soldier follows his calling in Iraq — both of them

dwa

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Somewhere in the distance, you hear a duck calling as if it was a summer day at the lake back in Kentucky. But you’re definitely not in Kentucky, and there are no lakes for miles around. Only sand and sparse vegetation populate these lands just a few hours north of Baghdad on a day when no improvised explosive devices hinder your journey to Balad, Iraq.

Pfc. Zachary Smith, a chaplain’s assistant with 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regt., 77th Sustainment Brigade, 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command

Pfc. Zachary Smith, a chaplain’s assistant with 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regt., 77th Sustainment Brigade, 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command (Photo by Sgt. Paul Evans)

So, the question that must be answered, then, is why are there duck sounds on the outskirts of the desert? The answer is simple: someone must be very good at making them.

Pfc. Zachary Smith, a chaplain’s assistant with 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regt., 77th Sustainment Brigade, 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, a native of La Center, Ky., is a competition duck caller back in the U.S., having competed in dozens of events over the past few years. Even though he is a long way from home, those duck calling skills aren’t going to practice themselves.

Smith enjoys duck calling. He said, “It’s a challenge, but there’s so many people calling [ducks] that you’ve just got to keep bettering yourself. Practice is very important.”

In competition, Smith has been to countless smaller competitions across the southeastern U.S. Smith’s goal is to eventually place within the top three duck callers in the Kentucky state competition.

Back home in La Center, Smith spends his time on the family farm growing corn, wheat, hay, soy beans, as well as raising cattle and chickens. Asked what he likes about being a chaplain’s assistant, Smith says, “I like being a part of what the Chaplain Corps does for the soldiers’ morale and well-being.”

Smith’s boss in the 149th, Maj. Brian Seidel, the battalion chaplain, said, “He really serves the unit and its soldiers well. He’s always on top things needing to get accomplished.”

So, how does a country boy like Smith end up in the Army anyway? The answer is really quite simple.

“My granddad served and I just wanted to keep the tradition going,” he said.

Really, what better tradition could there be for a duck-calling farmer from Kentucky than answering the call to serve his country anyway? Makes sense, right?

About kentuckyguard