WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — University of Georgia Head Football Coach Kirby Smart paid a special visit to Robins Air Force Base on Friday to pay respects to a unit of the Air National Guard before their deployment.
Smart flew in around 2:30 p.m. to speak with the 116th Air Control Wing. He said he appreciated what service members go through being away from their families for long periods of time. He said it's something he can identify with since he can be on the road recruiting for weeks at a time.
" I see it every day with my wife and three children when I'm gone for a month or I'm gone for three straight weeks recruiting and I'm not home, I'm not present," Smart said. "She (his wife, Mary) does a tremendous job to shape that home and the people in this community do that all the time."
Because of that kind of dedication and the sacrifice service members make, Smart said the short trip was a no-brainer.
"I love my job every day, I get to coach something that I love so the people in this community that sacrifice so much so that we have that opportunity. I don't think 30 minutes of time is too much to spend when it comes to giving back," Smart said.
Smart also recognized that the support that comes out of Central Georgia when it comes to recruiting and the students that graduate and take their next step in Athens.
"This base has been great to the University of Georgia, first and foremost because a lot of the kids that come to school there, they work on this base, so it's a great opportunity for us," Smart said.
The head coach brought along a member of his coaching staff, who had ties to the base. Charlton Warren, a defensive backs coach, spent 3 years working on the base as a program manager. He said he could not wait to come back to the base he spent much of his young career out of the Air Force Academy.
"My greatest appreciation for what they are able to do and being a guy that spent 10 years on the active duty, I have a great appreciation of the sacrifices they go through along with their families," Warren said.
The airmen presented two gifts to Smart. One was a musket, the symbol of the Air National Guard, the other was a piece of plane appropriately named "The Doghouse." Airman Aaron Shaheen said having Smart on board was surreal.
"I think a lot of these guys are always watching the dogs on Saturday so it was very cool to get to see Coach Smart come out here cause a lot of us are dogs, and talk to us and see us off. It's kind of personal."
Details of the 116th's deployment were not shared with the media.