Family Focus Friday: Technology Brings Family Closer Together

By Marine Corps Cpl. Bruno J. Bego2nd Marine Logistics Group

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Derek A. Smoak, receives the chevrons of his new rank at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. His wife, Michelle L. Smoak, witnessed her husband's promotion and award ceremony through a video teleconference. (Courtesy photo)

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Service members and their families often miss important moments in each other’s lives during deployments, but technology such as video chat makes it possible to share some of those special moments, even when they can’t be together physically.

The 2nd Marine Logistics Group command used this technology so Michelle L. Smoak could see her husband, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Derek A. Smoak, get promoted to the rank of staff sergeant and receive an award.

Michelle, who was in the conference room of the group’s headquarters here, was able to witness the ceremony as it took place at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.

“I was very proud to see him get those staff sergeant chevrons,” she said. “He has come a long way in his life, and this is just another great accomplishment for him.”

Her husband, a tactical vehicle license examiner, has since redeployed from Afghanistan’s Helmand province after nearly a year there. In conjunction with his promotion ceremony, he received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his efforts in support of International Security Assistance Force operations.

“He is a superb Marine, and the words of his peers and the general were very heartfelt,” Michelle said. “I appreciate everyone who was involved in putting this together, and taking time out of their day to celebrate a wonderful and exciting day for us.”

Marine Corps Col. Mark R. Hollahan, 2nd Marine Logistics Group commander, said any opportunity for families to participate in such personal events can be an invaluable experience and is well worth the effort.

“Staff Sergeant Smoak has been deployed for nearly a year,” Hollahan said. “We simply asked if they could broadcast the event, and the rest is history. … This was a big win on a target of opportunity. We are exploring other means to get this capability used more often, for any deployed Marine or sailor.”

Michelle said she couldn’t be happier after being able to see her husband on such an important day. “This was a great way to end a long deployment,” she added.

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