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Soldier celebrates freedom

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Bronze Star recipient to spend the Fourth with friends, family

BREANNA A. RITTMAN

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Times Intern

Sgt. 1st Class Clifton Smith has returned from Afghanistan after a nine-month deployment with a Bronze Star Medal. This is his second tour in Afghanistan. Smith received the bronze for displaying “exceptionally meritorious wartime service while serving as the headquarters platoon sergeant in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.”

Smith received the Meritorious Service Medal in 2010 and is glad to receive the Bronze Star.

“I’m glad to serve my country and it’s such an honor to be recognized for my dedication to my country,” Smith said.

Life in Afghanistan can be stressful sometimes for Smith.

“You always have to be alert, because you never know when the enemy might attack,” Smith said.

But he still has fun when he can playing flag football. He also enjoyed receiving care packages from his family and friends. 

“It shows me the love they have for me,” Smith said. “I consider it a package of love.”

One of the toughest things for Smith was not being able to attend the funerals of his aunt and uncle who died two weeks apart. 

“I was sad because I couldn’t come back home, but I know that both of them would want me to continue serving my country,” Smith said.

While in Afghanistan, Smith missed his family — especially his two children. Smith has a daughter, Ranasia, and son, Clifton Jr. 

“It was hard being away from my kids and not being able to participate in their daily activities,” Smith said.

Even though Smith enjoyed serving his country, he is glad to be back home. He is currently in Fort Benning, Ga., but will be with his family for the Fourth of July. His family and friends are also hosting a welcome back party on July 6.

“I’m overjoyed to return at this time of year while my family is having a reunion, and we’re celebrating the independence of our country.”