Retired Marine, Current Stafford Councilman to Discuss His New Book

Aug 30, 2017
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When he was a teacher at the Frog Pond Elementary School in Little Egg Harbor Township, Alan R. Smith liked to supplement subject material with his own real-life experiences. The retired U.S. Marine colonel served as a corporal in Vietnam and later as a colonel in Iraq, and has visited more than 25 countries, giving him a wealth of material to share.

“One of the girls in the class found my stories more interesting than what was in the history books,”  Smith recalled. “She told me I ought to write a book.”

Smith took her suggestion, and the result is Enchantments of the Haglady: Ancient Lands, Wonders, Adventures. The historical fiction explores the dream world of a young girl, and a young boy’s struggle to survive, as each overcomes heartbreak, misfortune and calamity through their strength of character and a belief in themselves.

“In my book, the heroine’s name is Kathryn, and that was the name of the student,” said Smith. “Her last name was Hagmann, so that’s how I got the idea for the Haglady.”

Smith will discuss and sign copies of his book on Thursday, Sept. 7, at 10:30 a.m. at the Stafford branch of the Ocean County Library. The program is part of the Friends of the Library Thursday Adventure series, which returns after a summer break.

Available through, the book walks the line between historical time travel and fantasy, as it explores the travels of the two orphans, a girl from the 21st century and a boy from the 11th century, who grow strong in spite of their tragedies. They meet on the docks of Venice just before the First Crusade. The enchantments will transport the reader to ancient lands of pirates, shipwrecks, a kidnapping, an emperor and empress, a princess, a first infatuation that crosses over centuries, and the always-present and mysterious Haglady.

“The message of this historical fiction is targeted at young adults, letting them know they can overcome any roadblock and achieve success,” said Smith.

The author’s life is quite a success story in itself. Two weeks after graduating from St. Joseph’s (now Donovan Catholic) in Toms River in 1967, Smith enlisted in the U.S. Marines and saw tours of duty in Vietnam. After returning from Vietnam in 1970, he continued his education at Glassboro State College (now Rowan University). He graduated in 1973 with a bachelor of arts degree and completed his master of arts degree in history. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marines reserves at Quantico, Va., in March 1975. He completed his Marine Corps career after returning from Iraq in 2004, retiring in 2005.

Last year, Smith added a new highlight by being elected to the Stafford Township Council, of which he is president.

“I ran because I was not happy with the contentiousness of the previous council,” he said. “Serving the people should not be about personalities.”

In addition, he sits on the board of directors of the Jersey Shore Chapter of the Red Cross as chairman of the Service to the Armed Forces Committee. He has earned multiple Presidential Volunteer Service Awards (Gold). He was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service and in October 2014 was presented with the State of New Jersey Meritorious Medal for Public Service, and the 2017 recipient of the Red Cross Pacesetter Award for volunteerism. 

Aside from teaching in Little Egg Harbor Township, Smith has also served as an adjunct professor at Ocean County College and Georgian Court University. 

Catherine Pszcola, program coordinator for the Thursday Adventure series, said the monthly programs are open to the public.

“We’ve tried to get speakers who are from the area,” she said. “At these programs, we welcome people who are interested in joining the Friends. We can always use more volunteers.”

To register for Smith’s presentation, call the branch at 609-597-3381.

— Eric Englund


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