Tuesday, January 5, 2010
His Star Has Turned From Blue to Gold
Troy airman killed in Afghanistan
A Troy airman was killed on Sunday after a roadside bombing in Afghanistan, resulting in the first American combat deaths of the year. Bradley Smith, 24, of Troy, was among three airmen who were killed, according to Smith's pastor, the Rev. Jim Wiens, a worship pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Troy.
"Brad was definitely a leader in a lot of respects," Wiens said. "He had influence with our kids. He was faithful and he showed the way for kids to be there consistently. He would follow through: When he said he would do something, he would do it."
Smith apparently was among four U.S. service members who were killed Sunday by improvised explosive devices. And a British soldier died during foot patrol in Helmand province, according to the British Ministry of Defense.
A statement from NATO's International Security Assistance Force said the explosion that killed the U.S. service members took place Sunday in the south, but did not give further details on the location or the victims' branch of service.
Smith's family traveled to Dover Air Force Base to receive his remains Monday night.
He is survived by his parents, Gary and Paula Smith; his wife, Tiffany, and their daughter, Chloe Lynn, who was born in October; and an older brother, Ryan Smith, an airman based in Texas who was scheduled to be deployed to Iraq this month.
"He believed it was a good cause and worthwhile to do," Wiens said. "Both of those guys are solid supporters of the need to fight these wars. In spite of the risk, he was willing to be involved in that."
Smith followed in his brother's footsteps, and joined the Air Force in November 2006, Wiens said.
He was deployed to Afghanistan last month. He served as a tactical air command and control journeyman.
"Brad was just this real likable, friendly, respectable kid," Wiens said. "He liked to have fun, but he took his responsibilities very seriously. He grew up really hard, strong: When he grew into a man, he was a man."
Triad High School Principal Robert Sudhoff said Smith, who graduated in 2004, played football all four years and was active with the school newspaper, The Knightwriter.
"He was a very outgoing, good kid," Sudhoff said. "He was an easy kid to talk to. Some were pretty quiet, he was not. I talked to a number of faculty members today who remember him."
Smith's former football coach, Paul Bassler, said Smith thrived in the team atmosphere.
"He wasn't the star on our football team, but he loved to be on our football team and he brought that joy to practice every day," Bassler said. "He was just the ultimate team player. I expect he was an outstanding comrade, if he treated them the same way he treated his teammates here in Troy."
"It's a good thing to be part of something like that, but you've got to understand that in the military, the ultimate sacrifice is your life," Bassler said. "The community's going to miss him. We've lost not only a fine soldier, but a fine citizen to this community."
Funeral arrangements are pending at Herr Funeral Home in Collinsville.
~ Jacqueline Lee
May Almighty God Bless this brave Airman. May God bring comfort to the hearts of his family. May God watch over and protect this Airman's sweet baby.