Timothy M. Smith
Sergeant, United States Army
Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 287-08
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sergeant Timothy M. Smith, 25, of South Lake Tahoe, California, died April 7, 2008, in Baghdad, Iraq of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), located at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
For further information media may contact the Fort Polk public affairs office at (337) 531-4630
18 April 2008:
Funeral services for Army Sergeant Timothy "Timmy" Smith will be held at 11 a.m. today, April 18, 2008, at Sierra Community Church, 1165 Sierra Blvd., in South Lake Tahoe.
The ceremony is open to the public, according to the Nevada National Guard.
Smith was killed April 7, 2008, after a roadside bomb exploded during routine patrol in Baghdad. He was 25 and a 2001 graduate of South Tahoe High School.
On Monday hundreds of people lined Highway 50 and Emerald Bay Road near the "Y" to honor Smith when his body was brought home from Iraq.
Smith is survived by his wife, Shayna Richard-Smith;
a 22-month-old son, Riley; mother Patricia Smith of South Lake Tahoe; father
Michael Smith of Reno; brother Tommy Smith and sister Jackie Smith, both
of South Lake Tahoe.
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, California - Hundreds of people gathered Friday to mourn the loss of a soldier from South Lake Tahoe who was killed April 7, 2008, after a roadside bomb exploded during routine patrol in Iraq.
Sergeant Timothy Smith, 25, was remembered as perpetual joker who was close to his family and had enlisted in the military to make the world safer for his one-year-old son, Riley.
The crowd, which included soldiers and police officers as well as bikers and ski bums, spilled into the parking lot of the Sierra Community Church.
Smith, an Army engineer, was a 2001 graduate of South Tahoe High School. He was assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Polk, Louisiana. He was killed in Baghdad.
"We had the same birthday, September 20," said longtime friend Tyler Erickson. "When he lived here, we'd always all go over to the Smith house. Even after (he left), he'd try to make it up to see us. All I can say is I'm really gonna miss him."
Sergeant Sammy Baker, who met Smith in the military, called him "a great leader."
"This is the third brother-in-arms I've lost, but it's the first best friend," Baker said. "Sergeant Smith, it seems like yesterday I was giving you advice on how to be a good Sergeant."
"Every leader wants his soldiers to end up
being better leaders than he is, and for the first time, Sergeant Smith,
I'm going to say this: You were."
Patricia Smith said it is a daily struggle to deal with the loss of her oldest son, Army Sergeant Timothy Smith, who was killed by a roadside bomb explosion in Baghdad on April 7, 2008.
“You know, we’re just kind of going day-by-day,” said Smith.
Patricia’s younger son, Tommy, and daughter, Jackie, have been irreplaceable during the tough months after Timothy’s death, Smith said.
“I would not be able to do it without them,” she said.
The Smiths hope to join family members who live in the eastern United States during a ceremony honoring Timothy Smith at Arlington National Cemetery on October 7, 2008, but cannot do it without assistance.
The family scattered Timothy’s ashes, so the fallen soldier will not be buried at the national cemetery, but Smith will have a plaque at Arlington honoring his sacrifice.
A fundraiser to help pay for the Smiths’ travel expenses to the ceremony will be this evening at Dopplegangers.
The fundraiser arose with the help of representatives from both Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons’ and Secretary of State Ross Miller’s offices, as well as Carson City resident P.J. Degross.
Degross is the founder of Web of Support, an Internet-based program connecting those willing to send letters and care packages with U.S. service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
But her support extends beyond those who currently are deployed.
“We want to make sure the families are taken
care of,” Degross said. “The families are still in the war, we might say.”
Sergeant Timothy M. Smith wanted to help people. He wanted to be a protector. So he joined the Army and talked about becoming a police officer after he finished his service.
Smith, 25, died April 7, 2008, in Baghdad of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered a makeshift bomb while on a route clearance patrol to find and safely detonate such devices.
The South Lake Tahoe, California, native was a doting father and husband. His mother said that he worked at a hotel and a restaurant after he graduated from high school in 2001 but that he had wanted to do more with his life.
"He just always wanted to help people," Patricia Smith told the Los Angeles Times. "He was always a protector."
Yesterday, 35 mourners came to Arlington National Cemetery for a memorial service honoring Smith. His tombstone rested on a sloping hill in the cemetery's Memorial Section K, in the northeastern most section of the cemetery. His stone was marked by a single miniature American flag.
Just as mourners arrived, the sun peeked out from behind clouds to bathe their service in light. The family and friends gathered facing the shade-covered hill and, between them and the tombstone, sat a flower-laden wreath from his family bearing two sashes: one with his name, the other with the message, "With All Our Love And Pride."
The chaplain, Lieutenant Colonel Harry Rauch, spoke over the constant sounds of cars and planes from nearby Jefferson Davis Highway and Reagan National Airport. Rauch talked about Smith's love of sports and called him "courageous."
Seven riflemen, standing on the hill to the right of Smith's tombstone, fired off three shots apiece, and then from behind the tombstone, a bugler rang out Taps.
Smith's younger siblings, his brother, Tommy, and his sister, Jackie, each accepted a folded flag. After this, the mourners took the wreath with them and moved up the hillside and closer to the tombstone.
Smith joined the Army in April 2004 and became a combat engineer noncommissioned officer who was awarded the Purple Heart and many other decorations. He was assigned to the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (light infantry), at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Smith had e-mailed his family regularly to say he was doing fine. He'd ask for such things as chewing tobacco, which his mother sent him on condition he would quit when he returned home, she told the Los Angeles Times.
After a 2006 tour in Afghanistan, he returned home for leave in December of that year and began a romantic relationship with his future wife, Shayna. She said the Army had changed Smith from the "party animal" boy he had been when they were younger.
"The Army gave him a lot of responsibility and a lot of honor," she told the paper. "He felt like he was doing something right."
They were married July 4, 2007, and he returned to Iraq for his current tour in November. She and Smith had talked about him becoming a police officer after his service ended.
He talked to his wife via e-mail or phone nearly every day, and she would read aloud messages he wrote for their son, Riley. He talked to his wife via instant message the night before he died.
On September 20, 2008, hundreds of friends and family members gathered in South Lake Tahoe to celebrate what would have been Smith's 26th birthday.
"I know that a lot of people here knew my son personally," Patricia Smith said, according to the Nevada Appeal. "And I know a lot of people know of him who are here. This community has really helped keep my son's memory alive."
On the online guest book Legacy.com, pages are filled with tributes to Smith. His grandmother wrote over the summer, thanking those who offered love and prayers.
"As Tim's grandmother in Massachusetts I want
to say that the comments about Tim as a soldier, leader and hero are comforting,
moving and amazing as well," said Barbara Smith of Westborough, Massachusetts
"The honors bestowed on him and the memorials have been beyond any imagining."
By John Rutherford, Producer, NBC News, Washington
23 October 2008
A memorial service was held last Friday at Arlington National Cemetery for a soldier who died in Iraq after his discharge from the Army was blocked and his enlistment was extended.
Sergeant Timothy M. Smith, 25, of South Lake Tahoe, California, was one of more than 12,000 soldiers currently subjected to stop-loss orders, which force them to remain in the Army involuntarily.
"He should have been out," his father told the Tahoe Daily Tribune. "He had done his duty."
Smith had joined the Army in 2004 and had served a nine-month tour in Afghanistan in 2006.
"He was pretty gung-ho going to Afghanistan," his brother told the Daily Tribune.
But Smith's attitude changed after he returned home. He married Shayna Richards on July 4, 2007, and began the formal process of adopting her infant son Riley.
"He had a family to come back to, a wife and a son to come home to," his brother said.
Smith decided to leave the Army, but he was prevented from doing so by stop-loss. He was shipped instead to Iraq in November 2007 to clear roadside bombs and was killed by one of them on April 7, 2008.
"As much as you think that you prepare yourself, you can never, ever prepare yourself for something like this," Shayna told the Daily Tribune.
Smith's memorial service contained no casket or urn because his ashes had been scattered earlier by his family. His tombstone, inscribed "In Memory of Timothy M Smith Sgt US Army," was placed on a sloping hill of Arlington National Cemetery's Memorial Section K, not in Section 60, where most of the casualties of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried.
"I am very proud to be Timmy's mom," his mother
said afterward. "He is a Hero, and always has been, and I miss him so much,
but know I will see him again one day."
Although his ashes were laid to rest in Lake Tahoe, it was Arlington National Cemetery where Timmy Smith told his father that he wanted his memory to live on.
He's now a part of something much bigger, family members say. Army Sergeant Timothy "Timmy" Smith now is memorialized along with the tens of thousands of soldiers at the national military cemetery in Virginia.
Smith was eulogized by 35 friends and family there on October 17, 2008. The 2001 graduate of South Tahoe High School, who would have turned 26 last month, was killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb on April 7, 2008. He was the first South Lake Tahoe native to become a casualty of the war.
In the months after his death, the Smith family had planned for a military funeral, and with the help of donations by the community, enough money was raised, including airplane tickets for Smith's mother, Patty; his father, Mike; and his brother and sister, Tommy and Jackie.
The military funeral included a 21-gun salute, followed by the playing of taps and a flag presentation to Smith's siblings. The parents received American flags from the Army in April during funeral services at South Lake Tahoe.
Smith's memorial at Arlington National Cemetery is in Section K, Row 125. It is a white granite stone that says: "In memory of Timothy M. Smith, Sgt. U.S. Army, Sept. 20, 1982-April 7, 2008; Bronze Star, Purple Heart; Operation Iraqi Freedom."
"Timmy would have been happy with the spot," Patty Smith said Saturday. "It is on a hillside, the sun shines through it, and there's a nice tree there. It's an ideal place, because I know he would have seen it as a place for him to snowboard down the slope."
The family made a pact to return to Arlington to remember and honor Timmy each year, likely on April 7. The two funerals have given the family a sense of closure, although Smith's memory lives oin countless photographs and conversations among family, friends and those who continue to offer sympathy and support.
"He's always here, right by me looking over my shoulder. I write to him in my journal every night," his mother said.
Mike Smith recalls the day his son said he wanted his final resting place to be at the national cemetery. At the time Timmy enlisted - in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks - the father knew there always was the possibility his son would die in the war. The conversation was brief but candid and matter-of-fact, he said.
"He told me if anything happened, he wanted to be at Arlington," Mike Smith said. "We told our chaplain this, and they made it happen."
The chaplain was Sergeant Major John Hefner. He serves as the Nevada Army National Guard casualty officer. He informed the family that it was only recently that a military clause had been lifted regarding burial services at the cemetery. Before the change, soldiers who were cremated were not allowed to have headstones.
The April 18 funeral and procession at South Lake Tahoe was attended by hundreds, along with thousands of locals lining the streets to pay their respects. The ceremony also brought a sense of duty and brotherhood with it, as there was a pact made between Timmy and Sgt. Brandon Lord, Smith's brother in arms. They pledged to each other that if one of them should die, they would return home with the body and be with family members.
Lord maintained the commitment and has since been in contact with the family, either by phone or e-mail almost daily. Lord has been redeployed to Iraq and was unable to attend the Arlington ceremony, the family said.
The ceremony was as emotional as it was official, family members said. The 21-gun salute and taps brought Timmy's brother and sister a sense that he died doing what he believed in.
The ceremony was something "you'd see in the movies, only you can't really describe it or give it justice until you're there," Jackie Smith said. "When you look at all the tombstones along the hills and all the trees, there's honor there."
Also attending the services were Barbara Smith of Massachusetts, Timmy's grandmother, and his grandfather, John Keefe. What struck both about Arlington was all the trees. Timmy had an affinity for trees. Growing up, he would visit his grandmother in Westborough, Mass., and whenever she couldn't find him, all she had to do was look up.
"It was an ideal place that Timmy would have approved of," Barbara Smith said.
For Tommy Smith, Timmy's younger brother, the experience at Arlington was a tribute that brought some closure, although at times the situation still doesn't seem quite real.
"My brother is gone. There hasn't been a day
that goes by that I don't think of him. It still remains fresh, as though
it happened yesterday, but it's been (more than) six months," Tommy Smith
said. "I never realized how time went by so fast. It's made me realize
that we have to take advantage of every day and cherish it and the time
we have together, because it can be taken away from us."
The family would like to thank P.J. DeGross of the group Web of Support, who planned the fundraisers and collected donations; Jan Brase (of Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons' office), Verita Protho (of Representative Dean Heller's office) who held a fundraiser at DoppleGangers in Carson City, and let the family use their restaurant; numerous merchants from South Lake Tahoe, Stateline, Carson City and Reno; Rick Wharton for helping with plane tickets, the anonymous donor who gave three airplane tickets; and Brothers Bar and Grill for taking donations.
The family appreciates the support of Barton Memorial Hospital employees and patients; Mike and Susan Elfisch, Ben and Debbie Rodgers, whose son, Josh, who was killed a year ago in Afghanistan; Steve from Operation Cookie Jar, who helped in getting flag bags to bring the family flags home from Arlington; many close friends, so many who know who they are: Erin Jamison, for getting the family hotel rooms at a extremely low price; Holly in Arlington, helping the family with flower arrangements. Sergeant Major John Hefner, who has supported the family every day; Lisa Miller, Stu Miller's mother (who Tim Smith was with since boot camp) and his fiancee, Meghan, who helped organize the family's first night in Arlington. Everyone at Arlington National Cemetery who arranged the ceremony. Amber and Nick, who have been with the family every day. And all the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division: "We love you so much for watching Timmy's back, and loving him as you did," Patty Smith said.
SMITH, TIMOTHY M
Posted: 9 September 2008 Updated: 20 October 2008 Updated: 27 October 2008 Updated: 17 November 2008
Photos By Holly, November 2008