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Eagle Scout, Keswick alum to graduate from West Point

By JON WILSON
Published May 23, 2007


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Seven years ago, Earnest D. Smith Jr. made a bit of local history by becoming St. Petersburg's first African-American in more than 25 years to win the Boy Scouts' highest rank.

Smith, who was 15 when he won the Eagle designation, will celebrate another accomplishment Saturday.

He graduates from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army.

The son of Earnest and Olinda Smith will be stationed at Fort Stewart, Ga., and will serve in communications, his mother said. His parents, who own Classic Cleaners, will attend the graduation ceremony.

Earnest Smith Jr. couldn't be reached this week, but his mother said his experience as an Eagle Scout, which gave him leadership experience, helped at West Point.

"A lot of those West Point kids are Eagle Scouts, " she said. Her son, a graduate of Keswick Christian, where he played football and soccer, also attended Boys State, she said. The event teaches young people how the legislative system works.

Smith earned his Eagle rank in Troop 301 and still keeps in touch with his old scoutmaster, George Ross. Ross was invited to Smith's celebration party on June 2. "I wouldn't miss it, " Ross said.

Troop 301 is sponsored by Pasadena Presbyterian Church.

Smith, who majored in systems engineering, was president of the academy's cultural awareness club, taught Sunday school, and sang in the gospel choir, according to West Point's Web site.

Smith has another big date coming on June 16, when he will marry Rachael Thomsen.

Smith proposed last November at the Times Turkey Trot, climbing the platform where Thomsen was singing the national anthem and got down on one knee.

[Last modified May 22, 2007, 19:53:13]


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