Horse Cave native Master Chief Machinist’s Mate John M. Smith was recently selected as the civilian employee of the year by the U.S. Navy’s Center for Service Support.
Smith was both excited and humbled by the recognition.
“It was unexpected. I don’t know what I really did to deserve it, so it kind of came out of the blue,” he said.
Smith is a 1979 graduate of Caverna High School. He decided during his high school senior year that he was going to join the military.
“The only recruiter that came to Caverna my senior year was a navy recruiter,” he said.
Taking that into consideration and the fact that his father was also a U.S. Navy veteran helped him to decide that the Navy was the right branch of the military for him.
Smith served with the Navy a little more than 21 years, spending a majority of his service on submarines.
During his military career, Smith conducted two separate instructor tours while on active duty. He retired from the Navy in 2000 and eventually continued his career in education by teaching traditional schools for 10 years.
Smith now works for the Navy’s Center for Service Support as an instructional systems analyst at the CSS headquarters in Newport, R.I.
“I’m a curriculum developer. We monitor some of the enlisted schools in the Navy and we update their course materials and work them on developing their testing and basically keeping their lesson plans and practice sheets up to date,” he said.
His current position is not his first post-Navy job.
The first job he had following his retirement was one that he didn’t enjoy.
In a press release, he said, “You must be passionate about the career field. You won’t be happy if you work in a career field you hate. I didn’t enjoy my first post-Navy job and that’s why I transitioned back to my roots in education. It’s what I enjoy and what I love to do.”
Chief Machinist Mate Brian Bertolino, a training manager, cited Smith’s drive and exceptional technical knowledge for his selection as civilian employee of the year.
“John is an amazing co-worker. He understands all the dynamics of the curriculum and how they impact our sailors serving in the fleet. He is an amazing leader and mentor at CSS,” Bertolino said in the press release.
Smith anticipates continuing to do the work he currently does with CSS.
“I like what I do so I will probably stay with this,” he said, adding he also enjoyed teaching high school science for a few years in Dayton, Ohio, and plans to see what opportunities become available in the future.
Smith visits Horse Cave about once or twice a year.
His family, including his parents, John and Ann Smith, still live in the area.
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