Soldier welcomed home for holidays _lowres

Photo provided by Toler Smith -- Toler Smith assists a fellow soldier during a training mission in Kuwait in 2013 before returning home to Greensburg in July. Smith works as a deputy with the St. Helena Parish Sheriff's Office.

After serving in Kuwait for more than a year, a U.S. soldier and Greensburg native has returned home just in time for the holidays.

Toler Smith, 29, enlisted in the Louisiana National Guard in 2003, as a junior in high school.

He completed 10 weeks of basic combat training his senior year, graduating in 2004.

Smith’s military life began in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when he spent six months patrolling the streets of New Orleans.

Fitness is of critical importance in the Army, and only those who are in the best shape go further in their careers, according to recruiters at the Louisiana National Guard.

To prepare for life in the military, Smith was sent to Germany in 2006 for his annual basic training.

He was deployed to Honduras in 2007, where his military occupational specialty was as a carpenter. While there, Smith assisted in building a two-classroom elementary school for 200 students.

“It was the first time I had ever seen a Third World country,” Smith said. “It makes you appreciate everything you have back home.”

Following his Honduras deployment, after Hurricane Gustav, Smith was sent to Raceland, where he assisted with storm damage.

“Myself and the other soldiers patrolled the neighborhoods where the residents had evacuated,” Smith said.

During his brief time off from the military, he married his girlfriend of three years.

“She was waiting for me at the end of my tour of duty,” the soldier said.

Following the 2010 earthquake that destroyed nearly every corner of Haiti, Smith was once again deployed.

His battalion, the LNG’s 1021st Engineer Company, engineered and rebuilt a school in less than three weeks. It would eventually house 800 children, Smith said.

Nearly 4,000 schools were damaged or destroyed in the earthquake, according to a news release.

In 2013, Smith was deployed once more and sent to Kuwait to assist in building a massive military base. He returned home in July.

For the past six years, Smith has worked as a deputy for the St. Helena Parish Sheriff’s Office.

“I take pride and great honor in serving my country and my community,” Smith said. “I’m also happy to be home for the holidays and with my family.”