Lackland sergeant named 2007 Air Force Ophthalmic Technician of the Year
(Editor’s Note: The following article was written by Tony Perez, staff writer for the Lackland Talespinner. It was submitted by Smith’s grandfather, Herbert Duplechin of Mamou. Smith, the son of James and Sherry Smith of Mamou, is a 2002 graduate of Mamou High School)
Staff Sgt. Adam Smith, 37th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, loves to hunt and says he has a good eye for it. Interestingly enough, his eyes, judgment and work ethic have helped others with their eyesight. Sergeant Smith was recently named the 2007 Air Force Ophthalmic Technician of the Year. Sergeant Smith has been stationed at Lackland for 5 1/2 years. Currently, he is working at the Reid Clinic, where he sees patients for a wide range of reasons. “Every day is a little different,” Sergeant Smith said. “We see people that have eye problems or infections and people that are deploying. We see all active duty and tech school students.”
Before his current assignment, Sergeant Smith was screening all of the basic military training flights. Sergeant Smith viewed two to four flights a day, with an average of 55 trainees per flight. “We had to determine if students were meeting the visual requirements for their career field,” said Sergeant Smith. “We were handing out about 75 glasses per flight.” Sergeant Smith has seen a wide variety of scenarios from trainees who come in for their eye exams. “Recruiters will tell trainees not to bring their contacts because they could get an eye infection, so instead of bringing their glasses, they bring nothing,” Sergeant Smith said. “Others come in with over-the-counter glasses when they need prescription glasses. I’ve also had trainees show up with their mom’s glasses, while others have needed glasses for a long time but they have never gotten a pair.”
According to Sergeant Smith, one of the most rewarding assignments of his career was a two- week humanitarian mission to Colombia he took in September of 2006. “It was very interesting. I had a great time and it was a great crew,” Sergeant Smith said. “I remember one girl in particular was so happy because she could finally see shadows, like the out- lines of people’s bodies. You know you are making a difference when you see people crying out of happiness.”
Sergeant Smith has also volunteered to be a part of numerous service projects, including a recent meal giveaway for the San Antonio community.
“You get a satisfaction out of it and I’m from a small town where you don’t need a lot of money to live,” said Sergeant Smith. “It feels like a part of my job. I’m at a place where I’m financially stable, so I try to do my part to help people out. It’s just about seeing people smile.”
The small town that Sergeant Smith refers to is called Mamou, La. It is located 50 miles south of Alexandria. There is a population of approximately 3,500 people and only one street light. Sergeant Smith’s graduating high school class had 50 students.
It was those surroundings that prompted Sergeant Smith to excel in his Air Force career that has just changed directions.
Sergeant Smith started classes this week in order to change career fields to become a recruiter, a job he has always wanted.
“I go home and there are people doing the same thing they have always been doing,” said Sergeant Smith.
“Here, I’ve seen a lot and accomplished a lot. I want to give people that same option and let people see that they don’t have to do what’s expected of them and they can accomplish anything.”