Lifelong Fremont resident Dennis Smith volunteered for the United States Navy upon graduating from Ross High School in 1967. He spent the next 10 years serving his country while stationed around the United States.
Smith went through basic training on the Great Lakes and was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia until 1969. He re-enlisted and was sent to San Diego for four years. While stationed in California, Smith worked in the supply department as a laundryman. “I was assigned to a vintage World War II aircraft carrier,” Smith recalls. “The highlight of my time on that vessel was we were the prime recovery ship for the Apollo 16 and 17 space missions and Skylab I. The capsule came down with a typical parachute canopy no more than two hundred yards off the ship. It was a thrill of a lifetime.”
After San Diego, Smith went to Florida for two years and worked in the commissary of the Orlando Training Center. He then found himself aboard the USS John King, a guided missile destroyer back in Norfolk. “We went out overseas and had to launch one time. I assume it was for practice!” Smith says being in West Palm Beach for the Bi-Centennial was special, too.
After his tour on the King, Smith decided to retire from the Navy. He achieved the rank of 2nd Class Petty Office or CO2.
Since his military career was complete, Smith returned home to Fremont. He worked for Fisher’s Big Wheel on State Street where Rite-Aid is currently located. Smith worked there for nine years handling general customer service duties until he suffered a severe disability.
Smith completed his rehabilitation and began taking classes at Terra State, then known as Terra Tech, in 1992. “I was only going part-time, so it took me a little longer to get my degree,” Smith says. He graduated in 1997 with an Associate’s in Computer Graphics. While attending Terra State, Smith worked part-time at the Fremont News-Messenger in the mailroom. He then put his degree to use. “The mailroom position led to a job as a photo technician who toned and sized the Friday photos. If the editors put your picture into the system, I tried to make you look as normal as possible!” Smith retired from the News-Messenger in 2004.
While attending Terra State, Smith also volunteered at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center and Library. “The library would give me information that I would then take home and input into a database format for them,” Smith says. “For example, someone wrote the history of Fremont. I went through the book and cataloged all the names like you see in a phone book.” In all, Smith volunteer 6,600 hours at the library, a recognition in which he is proud. Needless to say, he has made an impact throughout the United States and Fremont.