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Family of Fallen Marine Accepts Bronze Star Medal
by USMC Cpl. Michael Ito - April 26, 2012

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Marine Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith, Bronze Star Recipient posthumouslyHOUSTON, Texas (4/23/2012) -- The wind-whipped guidon of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division was planted in front of Rachel, Sandra and Jerry Smith at the Ellington Field Reserve Training Center, April 14. They awaited their cue to join the company commander in front of the Marines of Company A.

Rachel, Sandra and Jerry Smith are the wife, mother and father of the late Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith (photo left), who served as the platoon sergeant for the company's 2nd platoon. He was killed in the line of duty during a deployment to Afghanistan in April 2011. Because of his actions, that saved the lives of his Marines, Smith was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with a combat “V” device for valor.

Smith was an integral part of the company, said Maj. Roger M. Wood, Company A commander. Smith was a young staff-non-commissioned officer who was unbelievably professional and would never stop caring about his Marines.

According to the official summary of action for his Bronze Star, his patrol received small arms and mortar fire on the morning of April 6, 2011. After directing his platoon's fire toward the insurgents, he was notified of an airstrike called in by 2nd Reconnaissance Bn. Marines, who his unit was operating with that day. Noting his Marines' proximity to the target, and caught in a crossfire, Smith provided suppressing fire so his Marines could safely move to cover when the Hellfire missile impacted and mortally wounded him.

Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith's father, Jerry Smith, receives a Bronze Star Medal on his behalf from Maj. Mark Wood, the commanding officer of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment at Ellington Field Joint Armed Forces Reserve Center, April 14, 2012. Smith was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for heroic actions during a tour in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Photo by USMC Lance Cpl. Jessica DeRose
Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith's father, Jerry Smith, receives a Bronze Star Medal on his behalf from Maj. Mark Wood, the commanding officer of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment at Ellington Field Joint Armed Forces Reserve Center, April 14, 2012. Smith was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for heroic actions during a tour in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Photo by USMC Lance Cpl. Jessica DeRose
 In his opening remarks, Wood made sure to acknowledge Smith would want this ceremony to be a celebratory event, even though it was sure to “scrape some old wounds.”

But his family was strong as they stepped in front of the formation to accept the award in his stead. One by one, Wood came to attention in front of Smith's wife, then his mother and father. He presented them each with a Bronze Star medal and a hug on behalf of the entire company.

Wood dismissed the company and, despite the shining sun and chirping birds, the Marines were somber as they lined up to exchange handshakes and hugs with the family.

Everyone then retired to the drill hall inside the training center, where Rachel was presented with a shadowbox containing a picture of her husband, his medals and ribbons, and a folded flag.
The Marines and family exchanged stories about Smith, many noting his light-hearted nature that showed through his stern, professional demeanor.

Jerry, his father, told about how he was the kind of son every parent dreams about having.

“He made a difference in our family,” Jerry said. “He was thoughtful, funny, dedicated...a great son and a great friend.”

A medal will never be enough to commemorate Smith, said Wood.

“It's not enough for any of our fallen brothers and sisters,” he said. “But experiences like today, keeping in contact with the families, becoming part of new families; that's what we'll remember.”

The Marines of Company A began to filter out to return to training, but not before offering one more hug or handshake.

“All these Marines are a part of our family now,” said Jerry. “If they were Jeremy's brothers, that makes them my sons. They will always be a part of us, just as Jeremy will.”

By USMC Cpl. Michael Ito
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2012

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