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Patriotic Article
Heroes and Patriots
By USMC SSgt. Ryan Smith

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Alpha Company, 1/23 Reflects On Fallen Brothers
(June 4, 2011)

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FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELARAM II, Afghanistan (5/22/2011) - Marines and sailors of 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines, and Regimental Combat Team 8, paused to remember the lives of Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith and Navy Seaman Benjamin Rast, May 22. 
Marine Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith
Marine Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith 
Navy Seaman Benjamin Rast
Navy Seaman Benjamin Rast
Smith and Rast were killed in action April 6 while conducting a dismounted patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Smith was 26 and from Arlington, Texas. Rast was 23, and from Niles, Mich.

During the ceremony, many Marines and sailors came forward to talk about the impact the fallen had played in their lives. Smith, a platoon sergeant for 2nd Platoon, Company A, 1/23, was remembered for his love of riding motorcycles, his vast collection of music and his stern scowl and how he could turn it into a smile and light up a room in an instant.

“You always felt safe having him fighting next to you,” said Sgt. Jared Hammonds, a squad leader for 2nd Plt. “No matter what happened, you could rely on him to keep everyone calm and collected.”
“He was a pure patriot; an unapologetic warrior,” said 2nd Lt. Christopher Huff, 2nd Platoon commander. “He wasn't just a platoon sergeant. He was a mentor, leader and friend. I miss him very much.”

Rast, a hospital corpsman for 2nd Plt., was known for his large build, humor and fearless nature.

“I remember thinking, if any of us were to get injured, he would just heave us onto his shoulders and carry us out; possibly two at a time,” said Lance Cpl. Joshua Gil, a rifleman with 2nd Plt.

“Doc Rast was a guy that could make you laugh no matter the situation,” said Sgt. Apolinar Valdez, a squad leader for 2nd Platoon. "He wanted no more than to deploy with a platoon of grunts and serve his country.

“He was always eager to help his Marines to carry gear or ammo...to a point where we had to remind him he was a corpsman,” added Valdez.

Following the ceremony, those in attendance paid their individual respects to the fallen. With a slight rub of the identification tags, a silent prayer or short touch of the helmet each made their way in front of the battlefield memorial to say a final good bye to their fallen brothers.

By USMC SSgt. Ryan Smith
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs
Copyright 2011

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ORWARD OPERATING BASE DELARAM II, Afghanistan - With other troops waiting to pay their respectis, Marine Cpl. Levi Pope pauses in a moment of reflection in front of the battlefield memorials for Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith and Seaman Benjamin Rast on May 22, 2011. Photo by USMC SSgt. Ryan Smith
 

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