By Joint Hometown (NEWS SERVICE)
WASHINGTON — For an Atlanta native, standing before “the boss” took on a new meaning for this military man, when he found himself standing before the Commander in Chief at the White House recently.
Air Force Staff Sgt. J.H. Smith II was one of 78 service members chosen to join President Barack Obama and the first lady as the White House held a black-tie formal dinner and tribute to Iraq War veterans and their families, to honor them for their service, sacrifice and commitment to the nation. Smith is the son of Harrington and Rosalyn Smith of Atlanta. His wife, Kerry Ann, is the daughter of Carol O. and Pauline P. Porter of Atlanta.
Iraq War veterans were chosen from all across the nation and represented the more than 1 million veterans who served there. Smith, a 1999 graduate of South Atlanta High School, represented Georgia veterans of the Iraq War.
“It is an honor to be selected to represent the Air Force Special Operations Command at such an elite event. It is almost surreal that this is happening to me,” said Smith, who is currently an AC-130 gunship sensor operator assigned to the 4th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
Other VIPs attending the dinner on Feb. 29, included Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, along with senior officials from all military branches. The event was named, “A Nation’s Gratitude: Honoring Those Who Served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.”
Smith served in Iraq between 2007 and 2011 serving multiple deployments, and has served 10 years in uniform.
During the dinner, Obama said, “As your commander in chief, I could not be more proud of you. As an American, as a husband and father of two daughters, I could not be more grateful for your example of the kind of country we can be, and for what we can achieve when we stick together.
“You taught us about sacrifice – a love of country so deep, so profound, you’re willing to give your life for it. Tonight, we pay solemn tribute to all who did,” Obama said.