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AL ASAD, Iraq ? Gunnery Sgt. Ron S. Smith, the MALS-26 aviation information systems chief, takes the oath of enlistment during a reenlistment ceremony at the Marine Air Group 26 headquarters building, at Al Asad, Iraq. Smith?s family was able to sit in on the ceremony because of video teleconferencing technology.

Photo by Cpl. James D. Hamel

MALS-26 Marine’s family joins reenlistment at Al Asad

5 Sep 2005 | Cpl. James D. Hamel

When Gunnery Sgt. Ron S. Smith, the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 26 aviation information systems chief, reenlists, he likes to mark the occasion by doing something no one else has done.For one of his reenlistments, the Brooklyn, NY, native, tried to spring out of a helicopter. For his most recent, Smith decided to become the first forward deployed Marine to reenlist through video teleconferencing.“It was kind of a fluke,” he said. “I had planned on reenlisting, but I found out it had never been done before, and I figured it would be neat to reenlist via VTC.”Smith’s wife and children were present for the ceremony thanks to modern technology. Although they were at Marine Corps Air Station New River, NC, they could see and hear as if they were physically present.It was important for the 18-year Marine Corps veteran, as this reenlistment ceremony might be his last.“I’m trying to focus on the task at hand,” he said, although he cautioned he hadn’t yet made his final decision. “But it was important for (my family) to share this with me considering it could be my last. I include my family in everything I do, they’re my fuel, the catalyst for all I do,” he added.Smith’s commanding officer, executive officer, sergeant major and others were also present for the event. After the ceremony, Smith was treated to some private time with his wife and children. His youngest child is only 1 year old.“She didn’t understand (the reenlistment). She just wanted to know if she could see me,” he said. “The kids were excited. My 1-year-old was touching the screen, it was really special for her.”Smith had been involved in video teleconferences before, but only on business terms. This was his first experience talking to his family with the technology.“I think that any Marine who has the opportunity to do this should. It is a great morale tool to enable (deployed Marines) a different manner of communication,” he said. “You can actually bring situations to a video screen in front of you and it’s something.”Making his family and the Marines he works with part of his reenlistment meant a lot to Smith.“I wanted people who influenced me at all levels to be there,” he said. “I’m very thankful that they were.”