Confessions of a Weekend Warrior

Thirty-Five Years in the National Guard


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About the Book

America’s National Guard was once considered a ragtag gaggle of pretend soldiers. Beginning in the 1980s the National Guard gradually transformed into today’s highly flexible operational force that answers our nation’s call for overseas combat deployments as well as domestic emergencies that run the gamut from lifesaving disaster responses to staffing Covid clinics.
Brigadier General Paul “Greg” Smith describes his personal journey during these years, from a callow cadet to a committed commander leading military forces in response to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Smith gives a humorous, gritty, and sometimes touching glimpse into the inner workings of this unique military organization while offering portraits of the men and women who serve as the minutemen of our age. His reflections on service, duty, and the complexities of command will enlighten anyone who seeks to better understand the challenges of leadership.

About the Author(s)

Paul “Greg” Smith served for more than 38 years in uniform, retiring as a US Army Brigadier General. He also pursued a parallel career as a special education teacher and high school administrator. His writing has appeared in Military History, ARMY, Canada’s History, Country Living, Career World and other periodicals. He teaches Counterterrorism Strategy at Nichols College in Dudley, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic Details

Brig. Gen. Paul “Greg” Smith, US Army (retired)
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 254
Bibliographic Info: 18 photos, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2024
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9410-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5263-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Son of the Greatest Generation 5
“ROTC, It Sounds Like Some Bullshit to Me, to Me….” 13
Birth of a Weekend Warrior 28
Fun at Summer Camp 32
We Ride with Pride? 45
Riot Duty 55
The “Good Ole Guard” 60
Sex and Soldiering 66
Becoming a Commander 70
More Tales of Summer Fun 79
Justice 92
Unfinished Race 100
Limbo and Redemption 110
End of Innocence 117
Family 127
Rainbow Soldiers 133
Public Affairs 136
Operation Helping Hand 148
Heroes 155
Opportunity Knocks 164
The Land of “Not Quite Right” 172
Operation Big Ice 178
On the Border 184
Taps 191
Hubris 199
A Mighty Wind 205
The Global War on Terror Strikes Home 212
Chinese Intrigue 232
Purple Heart 235
Goodbye to All That 238
Chapter Notes 241
Index 243

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Brigadier Greg Smith has written more than just a standard military memoir; he tells an extremely important story of his own career that also covers some of the seminal moments of the last forty years in U.S. and Massachusetts history. The insider’s account of response to the Boston Marathon bombings of 2013 provides a particularly valuable perspective on domestic civilian/military relationships and coordination when confronting internal threats to the United States, as do the other case studies that Greg highlights from his experience as a participant. I also found Greg’s frank statements of his positions refreshing; in particular, he does not pull his punches in discussing debates about who should be eligible to serve in the U.S. military. His important and possibly controversial forward thinking is best expressed in his own words: ‘the Army has worked harder at stamping out discrimination than most American institutions can claim. In the end, though, the greatest weapon the Army has in its arsenal to combat bigotry is the fierce loyalty that soldiers feel for their teammates, their brothers and sisters. …  Although it was controversial, I was pleased to see ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repealed. I believe the Army is healthier because of it and our society is stronger when all patriotic citizens, regardless of their sexuality, have the right to serve in its defense.’ This book will provide a new and vibrant insight into the identity and experience of the National Guard, and its important and evolving role in meeting the challenges of domestic security in the 21st century.”—Dr. Daniel Patrick Marston, Johns Hopkins University

• “Paul “Greg” Smith is a natural storyteller who writes with humor, drama and insight. Confessions of a Weekend Warrior may be his own fascinating story, but with this book Smith does something else as well—he tells the tale of a vitally important and often overlooked branch of the U.S. military. The book, fast-paced, riveting, and fun, does great honor to those men and women who stand ready answer the call, anytime, anywhere: the modern Minutemen and Minutewomen, the National Guard.”—James L. Nelson, author of Benedict Arnold’s Navy

• “In the post post-Vietnam restructuring of the service, the Chief of Staff, General Creighton Abrams, insured the U.S. Army would never deploy forces to a combat area without the National Guard again. Brigadier General Greg Smith provides an inside look at how National Guard soldiers have laid to rest the stereotype image of the ‘Weekend Warrior’ and replaced it with that of a capable professional who has become an equal member of the operational force.”—Major Glenn F. Williams, USA (Ret)., Ph.D., former Senior Historian, U.S. Army Center of Military History, author of Dunmore’s War: The Last Conflict of America’s Colonial Era and Year of the Hangman: George Washington’s Campaign Against the Iroquois