ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: BHS grad reaches highest Marine rank

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Riley Smith, BHS Journalism

For 30 years, Baldwin High School alumnus Tony Rider served in the Marine Corps. While serving, he was promoted to the highest possible ranking of Sergeant Major. He earned numerous awards while he was in the Marine Corps. Some include the Meritorious Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, and Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon (full list below). 

Rider entered the Marine Corps right out of high school in 1987. 

“I joined because I wanted to serve my country and honor my grandfather who was a World War II vet,” Rider said.

During his career, Rider learned some valuable lessons that impacted him in a very significant way. He turned these lessons into motivation to educate young Marines.

“The most impactful thing for me was seeing Marines I led and mentored achieve success,  get promoted to leadership positions, and become leaders themselves,” Rider said. “My goal was to motivate, mentor and inspire Marines to be future leaders and for them to achieve greatness. Another thing that impacted me tremendously was the courage and bravery of young Americans who risked their life and also gave their life so that you and I could live in a free and safe America. It was extremely humbling, the dedication and sacrifice I witnessed overseas fighting terrorists and evil people.”

Rider was deployed three times to the Middle East. In 1991, he was a part of Operation Desert Shield/Storm in Saudi Arabia. In 2003, he took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom I in Iraq/Kuwait, and in 2005 he was in Operation Iraqi Freedom III in Falujah, Iraq. 

Not only has Rider inspired young Marines, but he also inspires his family. 

“He showed me that hard work and determination pays off,” said BHS junior Riley Coates, a niece of Rider.

Rider’s high school teachers are very proud of his brave service to our nation. 

“It is great to see a Baldwin High School student do such great service to our country,” BHS History teacher Bob Martin said. “I think we should all be proud of our community for producing people like that. We produce a lot of special people here in Baldwin and I think we should be proud of that. He is really an inspiration to all of us.” 

During Rider’s valiant time of service, he learned how to motivate young Marines and how to use his wisdom and expertise to inspire those serving around him.

“My motto was don’t ask your Marines to do something you haven’t already done or aren’t willing to do with them,” Rider said. “Do not take it for granted and understand that it is much more than a job. The military isn’t just a job, it is something that millions of Americans are depending on us to do in order to protect their freedoms and safety.” 

Awards of Honor: Meritorious Service Medal, Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal w/Combat V for valor (2x), Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal (2x), Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwaiti Govt issued), Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia Govt issued), Southwest Asia Service Medal (2x), Iraq Campaign Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal (4x), Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Select Marine Corps Reserve Medal (6x), Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (3x), Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon