Mon. Jun 17th, 2024
Captain Janice Smith Profile PicCaptain Janice Smith Profile Pic

Jamaica is known for shaping the world in many ways. Correspondingly, our sports, music, culture, and brains have led to disruptive and improving changes globally throughout history. Since the first slaves decided that they were not taking the abuse without a fight, Jamaicans have changed the status quo regularly. This trend is the only thing about Jamaicans that can’t change, and we now see it in the work and life of Captain Janice Smith. With this in mind, we salute Captain Smith, the newest Military Sealift Command Atlantic commander, a component of the larger Military Sealift and TRANSCOM organizations.

With this salute to Rear Admiral Wettlaufer, Commander Smith reported that she had assumed command of Military Sealift Command Atlantic.

You need to know that Commander Smith is the first person of colour to hold this position. Similarly, we compare this feat to the many other pioneers who put in the work and set the bar for everyone to follow. Pioneers like Rosa Parks, Katherine Goble, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan, Maggie Lena Walker, and the list goes on.

When Good News Jamaica caught up with Commander Smith, we were able to have a quick “reasoning” with this stalwart Jamaican woman from Morris Hall, St. Catherine. We decided to give you a sneak peek into the heart of Captain Smith by giving you access to her personal and powerful responses to our questions. Enjoy!

Question: You created history on March 20, 2020, when you received this command.  Your name is synonymous with Rosa Parks, Katherine Goble, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan, Maggie Lena Walker, and the list goes on. How does it feel to be etched in stone and steel as the first?

Question: The post is for 18 to 24 months. As much as you will have a plate filled with responsibility and stress, what will you do during your free time? Ludo? Dominoes? Spades? What do you do to relax?

Response: My favourite thing to do is read. I truly enjoy losing myself in a good book.  I also love listening to my reggae music.  I am bad at spades and “Loodie” [Parcheesi]. I probably shouldn’t admit that, but I do consider myself good at dominoes; I have some really good memories of watching the guys play dominos at the local shop in Morris Hall and “out by Edward Piece” where I grew up.

Question: Your life is such an inspiration. What do you have to tell the ones that are looking at you as what is now possible? 

Captain Smith was not satisfied with only having that be her answer, so she added the following to emphasize her feelings about putting in the work to realize success:.

Captain Smith’s Advice for Others:

– Seize every and all opportunity to get an education. School is important!  This is how you get your foot in the door.

– Education alone does not guarantee success; you will have to put the work in.  However, it will open doors that were previously closed and it will create opportunities for you to excel.

– Give your very best effort to what you are doing at all times.  Do not be concerned about how menial your task or core may seem.  What may seem insignificant today could be the great opportunities of tomorrow.

– Treat everything in life as a stepping stone that will lead to something better or away from something that is not so good.

– Be confident and maintain a positive attitude.  Believe in yourself. Do not dwell on where you come from, but focus on where you are going. 

– When you are told “No” work to get to “Yes”.

– Integrity is important, so you must strive to do the right thing. When you make a mistake, own it and learn from it. 

– Be kind and treat people with dignity and respect.

Question: Your rise to this point has been nothing but remarkable. In Jamaica, we look at you and say,’Yeah man, Anodda, one get tru.” knowing that it was not easy to get where you are now.  What was the hardest part of your journey when you look back? Also, what do you see as the hardest challenge coming up?

Question: When you look back at all the valleys you had to cross in the dark, especially as a woman, what was that ‘thing’ that shaped you along your journey that gave you the strength to say, “Not today!”?

Snippet of Captain Smith’s Resume

Captain Smith completed two Seventh Fleet seployments, Six Fifth Fleet deployments, and two Mediterranean deployments supporting Operation Desert Storm, Operation Desert Fox, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Task Force East Africa Anti-terrorism tasking.  While assigned to USS NORMANDY in 2005, she deployed to Europe and Africa to support Standing Maritime Group One NATO operations.   

Her Awards include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (2), Navy Commendation Medal (5), Navy Achievement Medal (2) and various campaign, service, and unit awards.

The number of ships that report to Military Sealift Command Atlantic varies based on operations.  Approximately 37 combat logistics, fleet support/special mission and combatant command support ships currently report to Military Sealift Command Atlantic.  

My favourite part of my job is being able to interview and learn about amazing people. That being said, this opportunity to reason with Captain Janice Smith put a smile on my heart and provided extra fuel to my determination to celebrate Jamaica and Jamaicans around the globe who are doing their little bit to advance the welfare of the whole human race. We salute you, Captain Janice Smith.

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