Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
After relinquishing command of the 15th Military Police Brigade to Col. Michael Johnston, Col. Caroline Smith retired from the Army after 23 years of active-duty service in a ceremony July 24 on Main Parade.
During the ceremony, Smith received the Legion of Merit, a certificate of retirement, multiple letters, a certificate of appreciation, and U.S. flag.
Her husband, Jonathan, also received a certificate of appreciation from the Department of the Army.
Smith was commissioned into the Army in July 1997. Her duty stations have included four assignments at Fort Bragg, N.C.; three assignments at Fort Lewis, Wash.; two assignments at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; one assignment at Fort Knox, Ky; and one assignment at Fort Leavenworth. She also served two deployments, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
Smith’s command assignments included station commander for the 1st MP Brigade at Fort Lewis; commander of 51st MP Detachment at Fort Lewis; battalion commander (rear) of 10th MP Battalion (Airborne) (CID) (Rear) at Fort Bragg; commander of the 503rd MP Battalion (Airborne) at Fort Bragg; and commander of the 15th MP Brigade.
“It seems like just yesterday when I was a college sophomore and thinking about taking a leadership class. My dad recommended ROTC. At that point, it was nowhere on my radar, but I gave it a go, and it changed the complete trajectory of my life in such a profound way,” Smith said. “I found my home, my calling and my passion in the Army. It was at Indiana University ROTC that I learned the foundation of servant leadership, grounded in technical competence, and the importance of leadership without letting your ego get in the way.
“As a young lieutenant, I learned from my platoon sergeants and so many other inspirational leaders that if you stay mission focused, take care of your team, the team will take care of the mission. Train, empower and enable your leaders to lead and stand back and watch what you can do. In 23, almost 24 years, they never failed me,” she said. “I stand here today because of all my teams throughout my career. I trusted my NCOs and officers, my organizations, and I learned to lead with passion by giving everything you’ve got because this isn’t just a job, it’s a calling. People’s sons and daughters are in our charge.”
Smith said she isn’t quite ready to leave.
“I know it’s the right path. I will miss the people, united in a common bond of service, values and shared sacrifice toward something bigger than ourselves,” Smith said. “I thank God for this wonderful opportunity, walking with me every step of the way, and all the blessings he’s give me of which I don’t deserve.”
To view the full change of command and retirement ceremony, visit the 15th MP Brigade Facebook page.