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Congratulations to My Grandson, Daniel Smith, Jr.

Daniel Smith Jr. and his mother Davina Dallas (L) and his siblings.

In March, my 20-year-old grandson, Daniel Smith, Jr., began the journey of a lifetime by enlisting with the U.S. Marines. He went to boot camp in San Diego and was stationed there for 13 weeks. During that time we did not hear from him for a while. When he was able to write, he provided information to his mother, Davina Dallas, so we knew the things that he was doing. We wrote to him with words of encouragement while he was at camp. I personally got a short note from him. It was so funny; he listed everything he wanted me to cook for him when he came home for a short visit.

Then the day finally came when we traveled to San Diego to see him graduate on June 16 from the 3rd Battalion, India Company. On June 15, they had a Family Day, so this was going to be the first time we would see Daniel. We went on some tours and saw classes to learn about what Daniel had gone through during boot camp and what it means to become a Marine. Then the men ran in front of their families and we got to see him up close. I could not help myself—I started to cry because my “baby” Dan was not my baby anymore! He is now a grown-up man.

We were all so very proud of him: his parents, Davina Dallas and Daniel Smith, Sr., and his grandparents, Angie Dallas, Brian Smith and Vernetta Makil. He also had other family members and friends there to help support his accomplishments. After 12 p.m. he was allowed to go with his family and visit, so we all went to lunch and of course we all went shopping for our Marines gear.

Daniel Smith Jr. Daniel Smith Jr. and his mother Davina Dallas (L) and grandmother Angie Dallas.
Finally the big day came—graduation—and we were all so excited to see Daniel all dressed up in his dress blue uniform. The total number of men who graduated was 299. They marched in front of a very large crowd. It had to be the most exciting thing I have ever seen, and I will never forget just how proud we were of him on his big day.

After the ceremony was over, everyone gave Daniel hugs and congratulations and took pictures with family and friends. He went to get his gear so we could take him to lunch in Old Town at a Mexican restaurant. We had a group of about 20 people who went to lunch with Dan, and we all got a big surprise when our family friend Jay Rangel told Dan that he had written a song for him about boot camp. So after we got done eating, Jay sang his song to Dan. It was such a good feeling to know that you have people who care. Also, Jay is a former Marine, so it was so good to have him and his family present at this event.

We got to spend some family time with his mom’s side, so we went to Universal Studios with him. Then he went and spent time with his dad’s side, going to Disneyland and the beach.

Dan traveled back to San Diego to Camp Pendleton to finish some training, and he graduated on July 25. We attended this graduation, and now he will be going to North Carolina.

I love my grandson and I’m so proud of him.