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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Captain Scotty Smiley of the United States Army

Captain Scotty Smiley

This Mover and Shaker interview is sponsored by Cosmopolitan Dental, official dentist of Whom You Know!  Dr. Garo Nazarian is responsible for Peachy's pearly whites: 

Captain Scotty Smiley is the United States Army’s first, active-duty blind officer and its first blind company commander – responsible for the well-being, recovery, transition, and reintegration of over one hundred and fifty wounded service members at West Point’s Warrior Transition Unit. Captain Smiley is also a recent recipient of the Army’s prestigious MacArthur Leadership Award and was honored with a 2010 Father of the Year Award by the National Father’s Day Committee in New York City.

Captain Smiley graduated from the United States Military Academy in 2003. His four years at West Point followed an all-star high school career where he captained a Washington State 4A Champion football team and finished second in the state in wrestling. He embarked on his military career as a Ranger and Scuba qualified infantryman, joining the 25th Infantry Division at Ft. Lewis, Washington. Scotty deployed to Iraq as a platoon leader and guided his soldiers through periods of intense combat and mindful peacekeeping. His men loved him deeply – because they could sense he cared about each one of them.

On April 6, 2005, just north of Mosul, Iraq, a suicide car bomber blew himself up thirty meters in front of Scotty’s Stryker vehicle – leaving him permanently blind. Since that day, Scotty Smiley has surfed in Hawaii, skied in Vail, skydived, climbed Mount Rainier, completed several triathlons, and graduated from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business with his MBA en route to teaching leadership at West Point. The Army Times named Captain Smiley its Soldier of the Year in 2007, and in 2008 he won an ESPY as Best Outdoor Athlete.

Scotty has become a highly sought-after speaker. His tale of leadership, perseverance, determination faith, and family touches all those who hear it. He’s visited churches across the country, sharing the good news of what God has done in his life. Captain Smiley has been interviewed and featured on CBS, Fox News, and several radio stations in NYC and across the country as well as in national print media. Corporations such as Walmart, 7-11, GE, Amazon, Battelle and others bring Captain Smiley to their leaders to touch their hearts with inspiration, values, and passion. In 2006, Scotty spoke to Team USA Basketball and earned the heartfelt appreciation of Dwyane Wade, Shane Battier, Carmelo Anthony and others.

Captain Smiley has also put his story into words. In September of 2010, Simon and Schuster released “Hope Unseen: The Story of the U.S. Army’s First, Blind Active-Duty Officer.” Whom You Know has highly recommended this:
In addition to Whom You Know, it has been endorsed by people such as Senator Bob Dole, Coach Mike Krzyzewski , and author Dave Ramsey, the book has made several appearances in the Top 100 on both Amazon.Com and BarnesandNoble.Com.

Scotty, who lives at West Point with his wife Tiffany and sons Grady and Graham has just been honored at the USO’s 49th Armed Forces Gala and Gold Medal Dinner in NYC. We are so pleased to present him as our latest Mover and Shaker!

Peachy Deegan interviewed Scotty Smiley for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: Our favorite part of the book was your surfing experience in Hawaii. What would you like our our readers to know about that and has any other experience since brought you to feel so alive?
Scotty Smiley: The rush of standing in front of hundreds of business exuctives who are anticipating my hour long speech and not being able to see a thing. (Public speaking always makes my blood flow).

We are just as impressed with your wife Tiffany and think she should have been given co-author credit on your book. Please tell us about Tiffany's outstanding thought process for not signing your "leaving papers" and how her decision has changed the course of history in the Army for members with disabilities in regards to opportunities presented to them.
Tiffany was the reason I was able to stay active duty. Since that day the Army has adjusted and improved their policies on very seriously injured soldiers. Tiffany is a women of great wisdom and foresight and I love her for her strong qualities.

How have you been able to help the other wounded veterans and reintegrate them into the Army? Please give us the best literal examples and the story behind them.
A Navy Seal was very seriously injured and blinded, I personally went to visit with him and share my journey in hopes of helping him out. Little did I know that the converstation my wife and I had with him and his fiance inspired and motivated him to continue his recovery and accept the life he had been dealt. He also went on to summit Mt. Rainier a year after I did and continued on to get a collage degree. He inspires me!

Your story is one of the best we have ever heard in terms of overcoming adversity and defining the word perseverance. What inspires you to overcome obstacles?
The support of my family and friends motivates me to overcome obstacles. I have a family I need to support, a country that I love to serve and God that wants me to be stronger person.

We just love football at Whom You Know and the first interviews Peachy conducted were of the Boston College football team (her buddy Damien Woody is also an upcoming Mover and Shaker) when she was a student, writing professionally. Tell us about your football career and who your favorite play-by-play commentators, television or radio, are and why?
My football career was short and sweet. It started in 7th grade and ended in 12th. With great teammates I had the opportunity to win the state campionship my senior year. It taught me about teamwork, perserverance, and strength. This short football career gave me the skills to lead and work with teams in the Army.
My favorite commentator is the Duke basketball radio announcer. I sat right beside him as he gave America and me play by play action of Duke basketball. (Scheyer for three..........its good)!

Incidentally, Peachy took Public Speaking in college and was chosen to teach the class as a TA the following semester and Damien Woody was one of her students then...what do you know now about Public Speaking that you didn't know when you started, and what do you enjoy the most about doing it? We are assuming you enjoy it now...
Public Speaking is not easy. It takes a lot of practice and preperation which I quickly learned. (if all else fails just start talking and hope you end up in the right spot -Michael Scott).
I enjoy inspiring and motivating people to better themselves. I know that everyone goes through trials and situations in their lives and if I can help make this world a better place by encouraging one person at a time it is worth it for me.
One of our favorite people in your book is Andrew Harris. What is he up to now?
Andrew is now a sophomore in High School, running track , cross country and excelling in his academics. This past September at my book launch I was able to meet up with Andrew, I had not seen him since Walter Reed. He delivered an amazing speech that left thousands (including me) with tears in their eyes. He is my hero!

We've recently reviewed some wine from Washington state, where you are from, and think that is one of the hottest wine areas of the country. What are your favorite Washington vineyards and what do you like about them?
The Columbia Valley produces the best wine. One of my favorites is Tagaris Winery. The wine is good but the food and atmospher is amazing. My favorite wine is Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 reserve. Wapato Point Winery is worth mentioning. They send me free wine every now and then.

What were Grady and Graham's favorite balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade?
Grady's favorite balloon was Ronald McDonald since he loves Happy Meals, so seeing Ronald larger than life was like having a Happy Meal on steroids.
Graham's favorite balloon was the very first one, Snoopy; he had never seen something so large floating in the sky.

Do Grady and Graham show an inclination towards serving our country someday? What makes you think so or think not?
Grady thinks he has already served. When he tells stories he references a time when he was once a cadet. Grady and Graham both have strong personalities and i'm sure they will want to support our country in some way.

Clearly your book is partly a love story, and it is a great one. Early on in the book you mentioned Tiffany's beauty and we imagine this is only one of her great qualities as women are much more than beautiful, even if they are! What should our readers know about your wife as a person and what do you love the most about her?
Tiffany has been my best friend for years. She is a very confident strong person and keeps me in place (pinches on the arm, kicks under the table).  Her spiritual strength and love for God have been my guiding light at times.  I love how she motivates me to be a better man.  I love her with all my heart.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence? 
Tiffany, the reason I knew I had to get out of the hospital bed, to care for my wife and to serve God.
What are you proudest of and why? 
That I'm still strongly serving my Lord and Savior and my country, because I could have chosen a different path.
What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do? 
Work with Special Operations and possibly start my own business someday.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession?
MSM, Bronze Star, National Defense Service Ribbon, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Presidental Citation, and Purple Heart. Honors: Army Times 2007 Soldier of the Year, Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award 2010.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
Broadway watching Lion King with Grady.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
Toys R Us with Grady and Graham...we have a blast!

What is your favorite drink?
Cabernet Sauvignon

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan
LaMasseria on West 48th and 8th
What is your favorite Manhattan book? 
The Cross and the Switchblade By: David Wilkerson
If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why? 
A Starbucks store because outside of NYC they are far and few between and coming from Washington State you should know how important Starbucks coffee is to me!

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience? 
Watching The United States National Basketball Team in Madison Square Garden. (private scrimmage session)
What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else? 
Get anything you want to eat at any time day or night.
What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
The Met, Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Career Transition for Dancers Gala 2010, should I go on?

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
The culture is underrated it is such an experience here. The price is overrated, it can be a bit expensive.

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?
In Champagne Wishes, the Washington State Wine Reviews of course!  I too beleive that Washington State has some of the best wine!

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I have a very dry sense of humor and i'm not afraid to make fun of myself.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
I can be contacted at

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