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Community Member Dan Smith, Jr., Joining U.S. Marine Corps

Dan Smith Jr. takes a group picture with the SRPMIC Tribal Council and his family during a private ceremony at the Council Chambers.

Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Dan Smith, Jr., is joining the U.S. Marine Corps. Before he left for boot camp, the Community held a small, private event for Smith and his family on March 16 at the Tribal Council Chambers in the Two Waters Complex.

The Community wanted to send Smith off in a special way. SRPMIC Administration Director Glen Law, acting veterans representative for the Community, welcomed everyone to the event.

Law discussed how the U.S. Marine Corps is known around the world as the toughest fighting force to take to the battlefield for 200 years. The Marines have struck fear into the hearts of our country’s enemies, defending freedom where it is most threatened, he said.

He added that a U.S. Marine embodies the values of honor, courage and commitment, and that the warriors of the Marine Corps are known for their strength of character.

SRPMIC President Delbert Ray, Sr., himself a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, presented Smith with a challenge coin and discussed the meaning of the coin. He spoke about how, in the O’odham Him-dag (way of life), tribal members would help the men leaving the Community to join the military by holding a celebration, and how there would be another celebration when the men returned.

“It’s going to go quick, … and some people don’t make six weeks, but by the end of four years, you will have an idea of what you want to do,” Ray said. “I’ll say in six weeks you will be a different person, but for the better. I am excited for you for this new adventure in your life. It’s an awesome responsibility.”

Smith’s mother, Davina Dallas, said she is proud of her son. “He’s no longer ‘baby Dan’ or ‘little Dan’. He will be Daniel, the U.S. Marine,” she said.

Dan Smith Jr. with his mother Davina and his grandmother Angie Dallas.
Photo courtesy of Davina Dallas
“Thank you to Glen Law, admin director and Elyse Lewis, executive secretary to President and Vice-President,” Dallas said. “Your support is wonderful. I hope the Veteran’s Affairs Program continues to hold these ceremonies for future military families. I’d also like to thank Councilman Ricardo Leonard for blessing my son, his father and myself.”

On behalf of the Community, Smith was presented with the challenge coin, which has the words Honor, Courage and Commitment. Senior leaders of an organization usually present a challenge coin to new members. Stories of the coin go back to Roman times, when coins were given to soldiers to recognize their achievements, and another story was that they came into play during World War I.

A short video clip was shown of U.S. Marines who graduated from basic training. Afterward, staff presented Smith, his parents and grandparents with Marine Corps gear to support their young family member.

“I know you can do it,” SRPMIC Council Member and Army veteran Ricardo Leonard said. “And it makes me feel good that you joined the military. Nowadays there aren’t that many who do that are here in our Community, and I feel proud of you.”

A few days later, on March 20, Smith took his oath and shipped out to training in San Diego. Only five members of his family were allowed to attend his oath ceremony. Smith’s mom and dad, Daniel Smith, Sr., his maternal grandmother, Angie Dallas and his paternal grandparents, Vernetta Makil and Brian Smith attended the ceremony.

“It was a very emotional and proud moment to see my son standing in the Specialist Lori Ann Piestewa Oath Room,” Dallas said. “We were all in tears as we took turns hugging him. As I hugged my son tightly, I told him I was proud of him, I loved him and I would pray for him every day.”