OKLA. CITY —
Guardsman Hopper T. Smith credited God, his family and colleagues as he was promoted during a ceremony Tuesday at the Capitol.
Gov. Mary Fallin and Maj. Gen. Myles Deering, Oklahoma’s adjutant general, spoke during the ceremony. Karen McGinty Smith, the soldier’s wife, and Gov. Fallin “pinned” the Edmond Guardsman to the rank of brigadier general.
Standing in the formal Governor’s Blue Room, overflowing with family members, soldiers and other VIPs, Deering spoke directly to Smith’s wife and their four children, thanking them for their sacrifices and support of their father-husband-soldier.
“The families of our soldiers endure a great deal during the times that we’ve experienced over the last 11 years,” Deering said.
Deering spoke about the Guardsman being deployed to Afghanistan twice — in 2003 to train new soldiers for the Afghan National Army and again in 2011, when he trained more new soldiers for the Afghan National Army. His job was to train Afghan army leadership to help make it a viable force that could provide security for Afghanistan.
“Karen, you’ve had to maintain that household. You’ve had to serve as the standard while papa’s been gone and you’ve done an outstanding job,” Deering said as he looked at the couple, seated in the front row.
Deering also recognized how their children, other family members and friends supported Smith.
“Hopper, your performance has been magnificent or you wouldn’t be sitting where you are today,” Deering said. “And your dedication, your heart, your goodwill is a piece and a part of all this and it will continue because, again, more is expected.”
Deering said the military has a lot of faith, trust and confidence that Smith will continue doing the things he has done in advancing the cause of great soldiers under his command.
Fallin recognized state leaders who attended the ceremony in support of Smith. They included state Treasurer Ken Miller, of Edmond, and state Rep. Marian Cooksey, R-Edmond.
“This is a tribute for your service to our nation and all that you have sacrificed, all that you have given,” the governor said to Smith, noting his contributions to the military. “You put your life on the line. You have given it all.”
After thanking God, his wife and his children, Smith said the National Guard is one of Oklahoma’s best kept secrets. He said the state was near or at the top of states in terms of contributing soldiers.
“Oklahoma is really blessed with a great National Guard,” Smith said.
After the ceremony, Miller said since he began serving in state government he has known Smith.
“I’m very happy for and proud of my friend Gen. Smith,” Miller said. “He’s served his country well and it’s nice to see him get this recognition and promotion today. He exemplifies the best of American citizens and the best of what we have representing America in the military.”
Smith’s military résumé includes serving as rifle platoon leader, mortar platoon leader, battalion support platoon leader, company executive officer, rifle company commander, combat adviser, battalion operations officer, battalion commander, strategic intelligence officer and state director of civil-military relations.
He graduated from Tulsa Memorial High School in 1980 and enlisted as an infantryman in Company C, 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry, 45th Infantry Brigade in Bartlesville in 1981. He was commissioned through ROTC at Oklahoma State University in 1983 as an infantry officer. Before deploying to Afghanistan in 2003, Smith resigned from his House District 67 (Tulsa) seat.
He is president of Strategic Resource Consulting and develops public policy related to regional energy and natural resource issues. He has three published works on energy and national security.
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