By Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely | 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
THULE AIR BASE, Greenland — More than 700 miles north of the Arctic Circle is the Department of Defense’s northernmost installation and despite the cold temperatures, an Airman warms people’s days with dad jokes and smiles.
Master Sgt. Marcus Smith, 23rd Space Operations Squadron Det. 1 chief, is stationed at Thule Air Base, Greenland, a remote assignment that takes service members away from their families for a year. Despite being away from his family, Smith said there are positives to every situation.
“Focus on what matters most,” he said. “When you focus on that, you put things in perspective and start to realize things aren’t so bad. Once you start counting all of your blessings, you get rich quick.”
Smith has served in the Air Force for more than 19 years, assigned to locations such as Greenland, Korea and Germany. He said his relationships with Airmen go beyond contracts and stations.
“[Airmen are] family,” he said. “You want them to succeed like a brother or sister. Show empathy, sympathy and listen without just waiting to talk, because at the end of the day we’re all focused on the same mission.”
Capt. John Bang, 23rd Space Operations Squadron Det. 1 commander and Smith’s supervisor, has worked alongside Smith as the only other service member at the isolated detachment.
“Smith has a very strong work ethic,” he said. “He’s proactive in identifying problems and solutions for those problems. He’s a great leader and follower. He makes sure the mission gets completed, and takes time out of his busy day to mentor junior members at the installation.”
Smith, whose father was a preacher, learned the importance of reaching out to others at a young age. While he was stationed in Germany, a service member who knew Smith’s father as a child approached him and told Smith the impact his father had on his life. Inspired, Smith has made it his goal to leave a positive impact on the lives of everyone he meets.
“[Smith’s] work ethic and caring nature motivate me daily,” Bang said. “He takes care of others, not only in his chain of command, but across the installation.”
Smith is also a member of the Top 3 executive committee, which is tasked with ensuring programs and activities are run successfully across the installation to care for Airmen and contractors.
“People forget [leaders are] human too,” Bang said. “Despite the position he holds, Smith tells dad jokes and cracks smiles seemingly every day, which really creates a positive atmosphere.”
Additionally, Smith is a resilience training assistant. He is responsible for helping Airmen and contractors navigate through tough situations, and offers mentorship and a different perspective for those in need of a wingman.
“If you’re not seeing a part of yourself in everyone you meet, you’re not looking close enough,” Smith said.
The master sergeant said he loves to make Airmen smile and laugh, so when asked what his favorite “dad joke” was, he grinned.
“What’s an egg’s favorite car?” he asked. “A Yolks-wagon.”