Benjamin A Smith
November 2, 2005
Killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV near Baghdad, Iraq.
|Soldier from Hudson killed in Iraq
Army specialist dies in bomb blast with two other American troops
By GRAEME ZIELINSKI
Hudson native Benjamin A. Smith was on his second tour of duty in Iraq and,
his father said, enthusiastic to be back.
"Because of the personalities that most of these men are, they don't like
sitting around at the fort," James Smith said Friday of the youngest of his
three children. "The whole group was anxious to go back to finish the work."
Having returned to the war only recently, Spc. Smith, 21, was among three
soldiers killed Wednesday near Baghdad when a bomb exploded near their
Humvee, the Pentagon said Friday.
Smith was the 49th Wisconsin member of the military killed in Iraq.
A 2002 graduate of Hudson High School, Smith was assigned to the Army's 1st
Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne
Division, based at Fort Campbell, Ky.
He was killed alongside 22-year-old Spc. Joshua J. Munger of Maysville, Mo.,
and 20-year-old Pfc. Tyler R. MacKenzie of Evans, Colo., according to the
During Smith's high school years, he worked as an apprentice welder at
Empire Bucket Inc. in Hudson and as a dog handler at the old St. Croix
Meadows greyhound park.
"He was a good kid. He was a hard worker. He was a quiet one," said Empire's
general manger, Sue Olson. "He was such a skinny kid. The stuff that we work
with is so big, and I worry a lot about the younger people."
His father, an engineer, said Benjamin Smith was never daunted.
"He was always looking for a challenge, whether it was well thought out or
not," he said.
As a child, he had been active in karate, and in his teens he enjoyed
off-road activities, hunting and playing music. He also was active in the
Civil Air Patrol.
Benjamin Smith always showed an "aptitude" for the military and enlisted in
2003, his desire fueled in part by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks,
said his father.
At the rank of specialist, Smith had been trained in, among other things,
the operation of a light machine gun and had been a squad leader during
patrols in Iraq. His father said he was aware of the dangers facing troops
"We talked about it a bit. It's was nothing you could do anything about. Ben
was never afraid of anything risky," James Smith said.
Other survivors include a brother, a sister and his mother, Lenore Smith, a
Plans for a memorial service had not been finalized Friday, his father said.
Correspondent Joe Winter contributed to this report.
Monday, November 07 2005 @ 08:11 AM EST
Contributed by: tomw
Pioneer Press -- HUDSON, Wis. — Benjamin Smith's last message home was an
e-mail to his older brother Tuesday. A few of his fellow soldiers in Iraq
had been injured, but he was OK.
A day after writing those assurances, the 21-year-old Hudson native was
killed by a roadside bomb.
Army Spc. Smith and two other soldiers died in Latafiyah, Iraq, near
Baghdad, when the bomb exploded next to their armored Humvee.
Smith's family gathered Friday night around their dining room table to talk
about the son who liked to work with his hands, who was constantly pushing
his physical limits and who had found his calling in the Army.
"Going over to Iraq, he got to do his job," Orion Smith, 24, said of his
brother. "He wasn't the kind of guy who liked to sit around and do nothing.
Being over there was doing something."
The Smith family learned of Benjamin's death on Wednesday evening, when an
Army officer came to their gray, two-story house to break the news.
Since then, the family — father James, mother Lenore, brother Orion and
sister Brianna, 22 — has been talking with relatives and mourning the loss
of its youngest member.
Neighbor Connie Piekarski heard about Smith's death Friday night. Lenore
Smith, a quilter by trade, had wrapped herself in a coat and walked through
leaf-covered back lawns to tell her. Piekarski said the community 18 miles
east of St. Paul will grieve with the family.
"He's going to leave a big hole in his mother's and father's heart," said
Piekarski, a retired elementary school teacher who once taught Smith at
nearby E.P. Rock Elementary.
Smith grew up in the house on 11th Street, hunting, fishing and
cross-country skiing in the forests and lakes nearby.
"He did some of everything," said his father, James Smith, an engineer.
Smith graduated from Hudson High School in 2002 and went to work for Empire
Bucket in Hudson. The company makes buckets for backhoes and other heavy
"He had seen what routine work life was going to be like and he was
interested in the challenge" of the military, his father said.
Smith joined the Army as an infantryman in January 2003.
He planned to stick with the military and attended assault- and
parachute-training school on his way to becoming a Ranger, his mother said.
The routine must have been good for Smith: When he enlisted, he stood 6 feet
tall. At last measure, he had grown another 2 inches.
"The Army did that to him," Lenore Smith said.
Seven months after enlisting, he made his first tour of Iraq.
"He wanted to go, he was all for it," Orion Smith said. Smith served in the
war-torn country from August 2003 until March 2004. He was able to spend the
Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays this year at home. His unit was
redeployed to Iraq, though, five weeks ago.
Growing up, Smith liked to work on giant model rockets and split his time
between doing karate, playing the cornet and making pottery. A former member
of the Minnesota wing of the Civil Air Patrol in Lake Elmo, he took flying
lessons while in high school.
In his last e-mail to his older brother, Smith let his family know that he
was all right, despite the injuries to his peers.
He also said he just bought a portable video game system and really needed
some new games, his brother recalled from the message. Before they had a
chance to buy him any, they learned of his death.
The family has yet to begin planning funeral arrangements.
"They tell us not to commit until they get him back," James Smith said. He
may not know when he'll see his son again, but is sure of one thing: "They
were proud of being over there and they were really making a lot of
The other two soldiers killed in the attack were Pfc. Tyler MacKenzie, 20,
of Evans, Colo., and Spc. Joshua Munger, 22, of Maysville, Mo. All three
were assigned to the Army's 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd
Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Ky.
Smith was the 48th Wisconsin resident killed while serving in the military
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