Hesperia man gets the call from

country

 

TERI FIGUEROA/Staff Writer

When David Smithís superiors in the Navy reserve called him last week, they were low key.

"They said ĎHey, get your paperwork up to speed, but itís no big deal,í " Smith said. "So I didnít treat it like a big deal."

Two days later, they called again, this time at 10:30 p.m.

And this time they asked the Hesperia man to show up at March Air Force Base in the morning.

"When I got there, they shoved orders in my face saying you are active duty as of 7:30 a.m.," Smith said.

Smith, an officer with the Inland division of the California Highway Patrol, is ó for the time being ó assigned to "homeland" security detail at the Naval Weapons Station in Fallbrook, 45 minutes north of San Diego. He said two of his local reserve buddies also got the call for duty, including Alberto Ontiveros, an employee at the federal prison in Adelanto. Ontiveros will be stationed in Fresno.

After 15 years as a reservist, Smith ó who spent six years active duty in the Navy ó never really thought the call to action would come. "Like everybody else, I signed the dotted line knowing this could happen, but not really thinking that it would," Smith said. "I did it for the supplemental income and retirement. But Iím a military guy at heart. Iíve always been the red-white-and-blue type. "Three weeks ago, I never thought terrorists would ram airplanes into buildings. Now, we canít sit back and think it wonít happen again." Smithís wife, Lynne Smith, is scared, even though her husband will only be a few hours away. "Thereís a lot of anxiety," Lynne Smith said. "Heís guarding bombs, for Godís sake. And they could change their minds and send him to Guam. It is so tense in this house right now." She is also worried about the money. During the first 180 days of his reserve duty, the CHP will cover the difference between his military pay and his regular CHP salary. "But after that, we are pretty much on our own," Lynne Smith frets. "We canít survive on his Navy money."

The couple has four children: One daughter in college, one son getting married in December and two younger children at home. Lynne Smith said she is so worried that she has tried to contact local, state and federal politicians and "anybody who will stand still long enough to listen." Smith says heís apprehensive about the "unknowns" in his life ó and his familyís. His wife is having a tough time fighting bureaucratic red tape to get the family the things they qualify for, now that Smith is on active duty. "Take every bad DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) story youíve heard and multiply it," Smith said. "My wife has had to fight tooth and nail to get anything out of them." But, despite all the anxieties, Smith said heís proud to wear the uniform and serve his nation.