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7 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Lt. Gen. Eric M. Smith
29 Nov 2018

What is your favorite band or musical artist?
My favorite kind of music is country. My favorite artist…probably Kenny Chesney. I like pretty much all Kenny Chesney’s music. Do you have a favorite song? OK, because I’m the father of a daughter I like There goes my life. That is definitely due to the fact that I have an almost 28-year-old daughter.
What has been your favorite place to travel to so far?
Venezuela. I spent two years living in Venezuela working for the U.S. military group there and loved every bit of that. It’s a fantastic country. I did fishing for peacock bass, I’ve seen crocodiles, went to Salto Angel or Angel Falls, which is a 3,700-foot waterfall and tallest in the world. I love everything about Venezuela. It’s an awesome place to be.

 What is your favorite sports team?
Texas Rangers. I’m a baseball guy. I’m from Plano, Texas, so I like the Texas Rangers. I don’t do pro sports very much with the exception of baseball because I like college sports. College players are still hungry, they’re still trying to get to the show and they’re still trying to get to the majors, whereas sometimes I feel the pro athletes don’t hustle enough. They don’t seem to be busting their butts on every play, whereas college kids are after it. So I’m a Texas A&M football fan, but my one pro team are the Texas Rangers.

 Were you involved in any sports in high school?
In high school I ran track and played basketball and I wasn’t very good at either of them. I still liked to run and hoops—I was mediocre then and I’m really bad now. Everybody else on the team kept getting taller and I stayed 5’10’’ and that wasn’t helpful for playing high school basketball. In track, I was a sprinter— 100, 200 and four-by-one relay and long jump. I wasn’t bad. I wasn’t crazy fast, but just fast enough.

 Do you have any hobbies now?
Oh, I’m a fisherman. I got one hobby. I’m a fisherman…I have a boat and any chance I get I’m out in the water saltwater fishing.

 My son and I took the family down to Key West and we went and fished off a place called the Vandenberg. It’s a purposely sunk ship out there to build an artificial reef called the Vandenberg. My son, Travis, and I, hooked in to an about 10-foot hammerhead shark. A big one, well over a thousand pounds we think. We fought that shark for 90 minutes, him and I just riding reel. Fairly light tackle for that big of a fish and every 10 minutes we were passing the reel back and forth for five minutes. We got her up to the surface and we saw her, and usually when sharks get up to the surface they just quit, but this one didn’t quit. Every time she came up, she went back down and we’d haul her back up, for 90 minutes. When we thought we’d finally gotten her, she snapped the rod on us. She towed our boat though, with six adults on there, for two miles up current while we were trying to reel her in. That was impressive—how much power is in that fish. That’s our big fish story.

 Yeah, so, fishing is my thing. I can talk about fishing all day long.

 Do you have a role model in life?
Yeah, my dad. He just passed away this year. My dad was in the Army only for two and a half years. I have two older brothers, and my dad just laid out how to conduct ourselves. There’s certain ways you behave and certain ways you don’t. You treat everybody the same. It doesn’t matter if it’s the guy picking up garbage, the waitress or a fortune five hundred CEO. He was a stickler on that. He was a super honest guy. He never took charity or anything from anybody. He never took money from the government, even when he lost his job for a long while. Back when I was in the sixth grade, my oldest brother was working at a grocery job. When my dad lost his job, he started working at the same grocery store during the night shift stocking shelves, while he looked for a job during the day. My older brother at the time was making more money than my dad, because he’d been there longer, I think about $2.60/hour and my dad never complained about it. My older brother was making more than my dad, because my dad refused to take anything from the federal government. So he went out and found another job. He died this year at 82.

 If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Why?
I’d probably want to be able to read minds so I know what people are really thinking. It’s hard, the older you get and the more senior you are, people don’t want to tell you stuff. I ask them, “Hey, Marines, how’s it going? Everything’s fine? You’re getting all the repair parts you need?” and they say, “Sir, everything’s fine. Yeah, we got everything,” when it’s not good and they don’t. Nobody wants to pass bad news because I guess they think it’s going to seem like they’re complaining. So I would love to be able to read minds so I’d know what’s really going on as opposed to what people tell me is going on. They think I want good news but I just want the truth. People try to be helpful, they don’t want to put a burden on you, but it’s my job so tell me what’s up. The down side is then I’d know what my kids really think about my outfits.

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