Blake is the son of Lori Smith and the late Kenneth Wayne Smith of Cairo, and grandson of Harold and Gerry Baggett and Cecil and Deloris Smith, all of Cairo, and the late Shirley A. Baggett of Macon, Ga. Blake was recently chosen to promote Jacksonville Universities’ Navel ROTC program through billboards and television commercials. Smith is currently in his senior year at the university.
So how did this quiet, unassuming Syrupmaker student athlete wind up in the glare of the spotlight? Blake was a junior at Cairo High School when he first began talking about enlisting in the marines after graduation. “My family was real concerned that I should get an education, they wanted me to get a degree first,” said Smith.
During his senior year in a conversation with CHS Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Carlton Gainous, Smith mentioned his desire to join the marines. “Coach Gainous introduced me to Captain Sweeny with the NJROTC program at the high school and he arranged an interview with Captain Prosser from Jacksonville,” Smith said. As a result of his interview and his application for an NROTC scholarship, Smith was informed that he would be receiving a full four-year scholarship to the college of his choice in the NROTC Marine Option program.
After talking with CHS construction technology teacher Todd Gainous, a former marine himself, Smith accepted the $150,000 scholarship at Senior Honors Night and chose Jacksonville University. In the fall of 2006, Blake earned the title of Midshipman, and maintained a 3.33 GPA with 15 credit hours and a 3.31 GPA with 15 credit hours in the spring of 2007. In the summer of 2007, Blake attended the Core Training for Midshipmen East in Norfolk, Va. The four weeks were divided into one week on a surface warfare ship, one week with air wing, one week at the Kingsbay, Ga., submarine base and one week with the Marines at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
During his sophomore year, Blake was a squad leader to incoming freshmen and helped mentor new freshmen into the Delta Company battalion. He also attended the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare School in Bridgeport, Calif., in the summer of 2008, while maintaining a 3.5 GPA during summer school.
In the summer of 2009, Blake began Officer Candidate School Prep training, taking 18 credit hours in school and maintaining a 3.94 GPA. Smith graduated from the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Va., on July 2, 2009.
Blake will graduate in August 2010 from Jacksonville University with a BS degree in exercise science and will receive his commission as a 2nd lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.
From Cairo, Ga., to all parts of the world near and far, we give a big “Ooh-rah” to a Syrupmaker, who with pride gives his best, one of the few, the proud, a Syrupmaker marine!