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Sgt. 1st Class Wade Smith is 5-20's barber extraordinaire

Soldier barber brings measure of relaxation

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Sergeant First Class Wade Smith cuts a good head of hair.

We didn't talk much as he worked; then again, I like to sit in a barber's chair and just think things through. 

"I've been cutting hair since I was 13 years old," the senior non-commissioned officer of the S-1, or Human Resources/Administration section, of 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, told me.

"I started with my own hair because my Mother didn't cut it very well," Smith continued. 

"Before long I was cutting my friends' hair, and then when I joined the Army I cut hair in the barracks."

His talent with the clippers soon manifested itself at Forward Operating Base Pasab.

Since the battalion deployed last December, Smith estimates he's cut several hundred heads of hair.

"The commander and sergeant major are in here often," he said with a smile.

A simple grey folding chair served as the barber's chair.  Four hooks on the right side of Smith's desk provide a handy place to hang the four clippers he uses to cut hair.

"Sergeant Smith first cut my hair while we were at NTC last August," Capt. Kevin Wiley said. 

"And as long as he'll have me back I'll keep coming back," he added to a chorus of laughter.

"This is a wonderful place to come and just relax."

Smith works quickly and efficiently; there are no wasted motions.  He and Wiley talked about archery and how Smith will be competing in an archery tournament during his leave.

"We just recently got the television screen in here, so now Soldiers can sit and watch a bit while I cut," Smith mentioned to me.

The haircut over, he brushed me off and ran a wet wipe over my face.

"At times, this place looks like a barbershop."

And a very good one it is in terms of Smith's work - and as small reminder of home.

Photo: SFC Wade Smith gives Capt. Kevin Wiley a haircut. Smith estimates that he's given several hundred haircuts since 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment deployed in December.

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