CAMP PENDLETON, CA — In his senior year of high school, Anthony Smith decided he wanted to be a Marine. He had a high-and-tight before ever stepping on the yellow footprints, and he greeted his classmates with "Ooh-rah" instead of hello.
After the completion of his basic training, he realized he wanted even more.
"It's always been a dream of mine to be in the Corps and to be the top Marine," said Private Smith, "whether that be Marine of the Year or some award like that."
He hasn't yet earned the Marine of the Year award but he's gotten another distinction from the leaders at 1st Platoon, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines: Super-Boot Of The Year.
The term "Boot" is rumored to come from the Vietnam era, meaning "Beginning Of One's Tour." It's generally thought to be derogatory, but Pvt. Smith doesn't think so.
"It's really exciting to win an award. Does this mean I get to wear another ribbon? I'm going to call my mom to tell her I have a two-stack now. I'm really getting there!"
His squad leader, Cpl. Jason Eisen, is less congratulatory.
"Private Smith is the biggest goddamn boot I've ever seen. He actually enjoys getting high-and-stupids, and he wears his cover everywhere so he has a perma-tan line."
Smith says he distinguished himself from the other boots in his platoon by taking charge.
"Whenever they called for working party, I was there. Phone watch - I volunteered. Mopping up puke around the barracks - I got it. The squad leaders really see me as reliable."
Another squad leader tells a different tale.
"Yeah, he volunteers for damn near everything," says Lance Corporal Gregory Mickel, "but it's the other stuff that gets him this award: falling asleep in formation, putting your flak on backwards, and asking the stupid-ass questions."
"Oh, don't get me started on the dumbass questions this kid has," recounts Lance Corporal Nick Emory. "He actually asked me the other day if combat was like Call of Duty. What a fucking boot."
So what does this mean for Smith? Besides the bragging rights he now has over his fellow Privates, he's been awarded with phone watch in the company office over the weekend.
"Yeah, we've got a Duty NCO to cover it, but I think it's kind of funny," says Platoon Sergeant Alvin Erickson. "Everytime the phone rings -- he's such a boot that he stands up at parade rest and answers. You can't teach that level of boot-ness."
Cpl. Eisen pokes back, "Yeah Staff Sergeant, he must have trained for years."