Marion born and raised D.J. Smith has already achieved great things early in his life. Embarking on 18 years of age, the JROTC Cadet recently took a national title in an individual drill competition. Video footage from the National Championship in Daytona, Florida, shows Cadet Smith gracefully spinning, throwing, flipping, and catching his 9‑pound rifle while conducting steps with precision. While he had the floor, Smith floored his audience.
Cadet Smith’s gold-winning performance:
Smith has taken his optional JROTC commitment to the next level, having won 5 drill competitions (4 regional & 1 national), personally completing an undefeated season. Smith excels in physical agility, and has a passion for it. He was a vital part of JROTC’s Raiders, the physical agility team, helping them win 4th place nationally in 2019. He also set a new JROTC record in pull-ups (37).
While with JROTC, Smith volunteered on the Color Guard, and also participated in community service projects including for the Marion National Cemetery and Veterans Affairs. He is also a lifelong member of Nelson Street Wesleyan Church.
“Support from the community…friends, family, instructors, and neighbors…has driven me to do something with drill. I want to thank them for their donations, love, and support,” explained Smith. Smith also expressed that Marion is a caring community. “Someone is always willing to help if you need it, whether helping you grab something from a high shelf at Walmart, or stopping to help you if you get into a car accident.”
A few days from now, Smith will be serving active-duty in the U.S. Army, stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, with an occupation of Artillery Cannon Crewman. He said depending on what the future holds, he might return home to Marion.