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Turlock native fights fires for Marine Corp
marine pic
Marine Corps Sgt. Maxwell Smith and Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighters work to put out the last of the fire during a training exercise on a flight line, April 8. - photo by Photo Contributed

Maxwell Smith will tell you that from the age of 3 years he could tell the difference between the branches of the armed services — and for him, none could compare to the U.S. Marine Corps.

Now, at age 26, the Turlock native has reached the rank of sergeant and has found his niche with the Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighters.

Smith graduated from Turlock High School in 2003 and joined up that same year.

“I told the recruiter that I wanted to do a job that was going to make a difference, but that it wasn’t necessary to give me a rifle, and he said ‘I have just the job for you,’” Smith said.

Instead of a rifle, the Marine Corps put a hose in his hands and made him a member of ARFF. He is now a crew chief and is responsible for leading 20 Marines in training and rescue operations.

ARFF is essentially a specialized fire department trained to respond to all aircraft emergencies, whether it’s passenger rescue or dealing with hazardous materials.

“We take our job very seriously and train as much as we can,” Smith said. “Fire is nothing to be really afraid of. We’re trained to deal with it. We’re one of the only groups of Marines here that would run right into a fire while everyone else is running away from it.”

Smith plans on making the Marines his career and has already earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Sciences and is working on a second degree in Education.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.