SIX MILE, S.C. (WSPA) – Twenty-six-year Marine Corps veteran Phillip E. Smith said the church he grew up in supported the military.

“So when I graduated from high school, I immediately talked to a recruiter,” Smith said.

“Initially wanted to join the Army, but they wouldn’t have me because I was colorblind. So I went next door and joined the Marines.”

Smith told 7NEWS he wanted to be challenged.

He served as an infantryman both as an enlisted Marine and as an officer.

“The four biggest deployments that I did was Grenada in Beirut in ’83 and ’84. Then Somalia in ’90-’91. And then Afghanistan, 2007, and 8.”

In Somalia, Smith worked as the company commander inside an infantry battalion.

“Our job was to help provide security and settle down the chaos in Somalia, Mogadishu, primarily in the north of Mogadishu.”

He said that the tour was a defensive security type of operation and so was Beirut.

“We were providing security for the airport trying to keep the airport open until the entire unit got pulled out,” Smith said. “Afghanistan, I was in charge of the Central Core Advisor team with the tool first corps in Afghanistan.”

Smith said he didn’t get into combat but was shot quite a bit. He said the mental training he underwent prepared him for the challenges he faced.

In 2010, Smith retired and worked as a civilian contractor in Pickens County. That’s where Smith met Tom Von Kaenel, the creator of the Semper Fi Barn.

“He said we’re working on the Semper Fi Barn. And I said, ‘Well, I can do some woodworking,’ and I probably shouldn’t have said that. So I helped out quite a bit here with the Semper Fi Barn, the physical structure of it and some of the furniture projects.”

Smith said he enjoys it as he did serving his country with his brothers and sisters in arms.

​”One of the things that I have learned is that I enjoyed the Marines not necessarily the institution of the Marine Corps,” Smith explained. “And that’s an important thing that a lot of people don’t understand. The reason why you stick with an institution is because of the people. So whenever I feel like I need to refresh and relax, I think about all the good people that I serve.”

Phillip E. Smith, Thank You for Your Service.

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