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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | Feb. 3, 2017

Raven Runs the Distance

By Senior Airman Jordyn Fetter 11th Wing Public Affairs

A combination of sneakers and curiosity carried him through streets lined with gothic-style architecture during his downtime in the early morning hours after an overseas flight.

Running at 6 a.m. alongside his mission partners in Brussels had a mesmerizing effect on Senior Airman Joshua D. Smith, once again reminding him of why the sport calls him back time and time again.

“My favorite part about running is exploring what’s out there,” Smith said. “On overseas missions, I try to explore cities by running. I don’t like paying for taxis or taking other forms of transportation, so I’ll run through the city whether it’s one mile, or ten miles.”

The 811th Security Forces Squadron executive aircraft security team member was destined to become a runner due to his childhood participation in activities like soccer and track and field, although his dedication to the sport began after he joined the Air Force.

Initially, Smith was inspired to strive for higher goals by the “Thunderbolt” and “Warhawk” fitness standards in basic military training and later started to love running while on a deployment.

“The first time I really got into running was on what I call an ‘extended temporary duty assignment,’ to Morón Air Base, Spain,” Smith said. “My supervisor at the time inspired me to begin working out. I got him into running while he got me into weight lifting. From there, I just started to run every day or every other day.”

Smith’s Air Force mission has taken him to unique places around the world, while running has taken him even deeper into each culture and location as well as giving him a way to contribute to activities happening around him.

“Ever since my time in Spain, I’ve just looked for opportunities to run,” Smith said. “When I was stationed at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, my first duty station, one of my supervisors wanted to do a half marathon and I had never done one, so I figured it would be a challenge.”

Smith has completed the Marine Corps Marathon, five half marathons and numerous 5Ks for various causes, with no plans to stop anytime soon.

“I feel like I’m honoring each cause with my running,” Smith said. “I’ll raise money as well to pitch in what I can, but I like to participate in it by running because that’s what I’m good at.”

Whether it’s preparing for his Air Force physical fitness test or paying his respects to Holocaust victims, Smith finds different reasons to run.

Moving forward, Smith plans to take on the Air Force Marathon and the Army Ten-Miler as part of his goal to participate in as many of the military service runs as possible.

“I really want to participate in the Air Force marathon in Ohio,” Smith said. “That’s something I’ve wanted to do since I completed the Marine Corps Marathon, which was really amazing to accomplish.”

Airmen like Smith, known as the Phoenix Ravens, provide security for individuals like the vice president, secretary of defense, secretary of state, and senate and cabinet members on Air Force aircraft.

“Our section provides discrete, low‐visibility security that ensures protection for Air Force aircraft transiting airfields where security is unknown or deemed inadequate to counter local threats,” Smith said. “My job is pretty stressful at times, but running keeps me mentally sane.”

Because of how demanding the job is, security forces members who consider applying for it are required to attend a three-week training held by executive security team members like Smith at JBA before going to New Jersey for the official course.

“I’m called to do all the running with trainees when I’m not on a mission,” Smith said. “Whether it’s running five to eight miles or doing 500 or 600 jumping jacks with them that week, my running helps me stay prepared for training them.”

Due to his aptitude for running, Smith is used to being asked what advice he can pass along for aspiring runners and those who are wishing to hone their skill.

“Whenever I ask him questions about long distance running, he always has a really good answer and then some,” said Senior Airman Benjamin Oviedo, 811th Security Forces Squadron executive aircraft security team member and Smith’s fellow Airman. “He’s given me tips on the basics like breathing pattern, strides, sprints and workout regimens.”

Throughout the journey that began in Spain and developed throughout his 4.5-year Air Force career, Smith has remained determined to challenge personal limits set on both him and his fellow Airmen.

“I’m known as ‘the guy who runs,” Smith said. “I find someone who has done and aim to, not necessarily beat them, but push myself to do better.”