(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
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
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.”
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
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.
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
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
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
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