Wounded Warrior: Blind Soldier Becomes Company Commanderthe academy's Behavioral Sciences and Leadership department, teaching a leadership course to third-year cadets.Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs By Tommy Gilligan02.02.2010 WEST POINT, N.Y. - Soldier, infantryman, Airborne Ranger, combat diver, mountain climber, skier, tri-athlete, surfer, husband and father are just a few words to describe Army Capt. Scott M. Smiley.
Yesterday, the title of company commander was added to Smiley's distinctive resume, as he became the first blind officer to lead a company as he assumed command of the Warrior Transition Unit at the U.S. Military Academy here.
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
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 Fort 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 said he'd looked at what had happened to him in Iraq and made the decision that he was not going down the same path as the character Gary Sinise played in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump. Sinese's character of Army Lt. Dan had been grievously wounded in Vietnam and was initially portrayed as bitter and self-destructive.
"The decisions that Lt. Dan made after his injuries never came into my mind. I wanted to take care of myself -- physically, mentally and spiritually," Smiley said. "I just did not want to give up because of something that negatively happened to me." ...
Go over to War on Terror News here, and read more on this Every Day Hero.
Thank you for your service, sir!