Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Timothy M Smith

South Lake Tahoe, California

April 7, 2008

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
25 Army Sgt

4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry)

Fort Polk, Louisiana

 Killed in Baghdad, Iraq when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.

From The Precis Obituaries  theprecis.com 04/29/08:

Sept. 20, 1982 to April 7, 2008


Stop-Loss orders suspend discharges so that experienced members of the
military can continue to serve at a time of national crisis. Hollywood made a
movie about it. The reality ordered Sergeant Timothy Michael Smith back
to duty last year. He died April 7th when his Humvee struck an improvised
explosive device in the streets of Baghdad. He was 25 years old.

Known to family and friends in his hometown of South Lake Tahoe as “Timmy,” the newly-married sergeant had already served one tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2006 and should have been released from the Army last November. Instead, he was redeployed to Iraq as part of the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Polk, Louisiana.

Pretty gung-ho

“He was pretty gung-ho about going to Afghanistan,” said his younger brother, Tommy Smith, 23, of Lake Tahoe. But Tim’s attitude changed after he married his wife, Shayna Richard-Smith, on July 4, 2007, his brother said. “He had a family to come back to, a wife and a son to come home to.”

Tim’s father, Mike Smith, 50, of Reno, said the stop-loss policy had frustrated
the Smith family—despite the tremendous pride they felt in their son’s
service. “He should have been out,” a devastated Smith told a local paper
shortly after hearing of his son’s death. “That was his feeling, that he had
done his duty.”

Mike Herron, Tim’s former T-ball coach, expressed similar anger over the
Army’s stop-loss policy. “I know that the main thing he wanted to do was to
work for his country,” Herron said of the freckle-faced kid he had watched
grow up. Tim felt he had done that in Afghanistan, his childhood coach
said. “He should have been home.”

Tribute by Senator Harry Reid

As of last September, according to The Associated Press, approximately
10,000 soldiers were being held beyond their initial contracts and ordered to
remain on active duty. The stop-loss policy and the terrible strain it places
on service members and their families, not to mention the toll it takes on
human life, is decried by anti-war advocates like Nevada Senator Harry Reid
(D), who paid tribute to Sergeant Smith on the floor of the U.S. Senate
on April 14.

“Tim graduated in 2001 from South Tahoe High School and joined the Army
in April 2004,” said Reid, who personally called and talked to each member
of the family, including Tim’s mother, Patricia, and his 23-year-old widow,
Shayna. “He is remembered by all as having a special sense of humor, for
making people laugh and for his warmth. …He was also determined,
courageous and caring.”

Brothers in arms

Reid, who serves as Senate Majority Leader, was especially moved by the
relationship between Smith and Sergeant Brandon Lords, who was among those who came to Tim’s aid after he was critically injured in the roadside bomb attack. “Sergeant Smith and Sergeant Lords were brothers in arms, and they had made a pact. If one was lost in combat, the other would escort his body home.” Such commitment, the senator said, “is emblematic of the courageous young men and women who serve in the United States military.”

On April 14th—the same day Reid spoke on the Senate floor—Sergeant Lords honored his promise to accompany his fallen comrade’s flag-draped coffin to South Lake Tahoe. Friends and strangers alike lined the streets from the Lake Tahoe Airport to the McFarlane Mortuary to welcome their hero home. Escorted by the Patriot Guard, the hearse carrying Tim’s body was followed by members of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, California Highway Patrol, South Lake Tahoe Fire Department and Tahoe Douglas Fire Department. Red, white and blue signs reading, “We will never forget” and “Timmy Smith is a hero” were scattered amidst the crowd, many tearful and waving American flags.

Such a happy kid

One thing for sure, Tim Smith made a lasting impression on everyone he
knew. “I’ll always remember his bright red hair,” said Teresa Ortiz, whose
son was a longtime friend of Smith’s. “He was such a happy kid. That smile
walked into a room before he did.”

Boisterous, with an infectious laugh and the stubbornness associated with
red hair, Tim was a rambunctious youngster growing up, he and his younger brother Tommy inseparable, many said. They were “tricksters…double trouble,” said Birgit Lukins, a former teacher’s assistant who knew the brothers at both Tahoe Valley Elementary School and the high school where she is now an attendance worker.

Over the moon about being a father

Tim’s wife, Shayna Richard-Smith, saw a different side, a man who loved to
cook for her, adored his family and was over the moon about adopting Shayna’s 22-month-old son, Riley. Tim “would come home and wouldn’t even take his boots off” before playing with his son, she said. After Tim was deployed to Iraq in November, he emailed or phoned his wife nearly every day about their future. He wanted to move to Los Angeles, join the police department and have another baby.

Married less than a year, Shayna paints a heartbreaking image of learning of Tim’s death. Two Fort Polk servicemen, dispatched to break the news in person, repeated it to Riley. “The servicemen [knelt] down at my son’s crib and said: ‘On behalf of the Secretary of Defense, we would regretfully like to inform you that your daddy was killed in Iraq.’ “As much as you think that you prepare yourself,” Shayna told the Tahoe Daily Tribune not long after, “you can never, ever prepare yourself for
something like this.”

You’ve got the wrong one!

Tim’s mother, Patricia Smith, mistook the two Army officers who came to
her door in South Lake Tahoe for recruiters. “I started to tell them my son’s
already in the Army,” she said, still reeling in shock. Even when she heard
the dreaded words—”Mrs. Smith, we regret to inform you that your son,
Timothy Michael Smith, was killed in action”—she refused to believe it. “I
said, ‘No, he wasn’t. He’s in a safe place. You’ve got the wrong one!’”

Patricia Smith, 53, last saw her son when he came home for Thanksgiving. “As
usual, I made a dinner big enough for the entire Army,” she said. Then, just
before Tim left for Iraq, he tried to offer reassurance, saying, “Mom, I’m going to
be fine.”

“Little did I know that was going to be my last hug and my last kiss,” she said.

A real-life American hero

In his closing remarks to the Senate, Harry Reid called Tim Smith “a hero—
a real-life American hero—who gave his life so that others might be safe.”
Honoring him on the floor of the United States Senate, he said, “is no more
than a modest tribute to his sacrifice. I hope it is some small comfort to
those his life and courage touched that the United States Senate and the
American people share in the pain of their grief and the burden of their

Tim is survived by his wife, Shayna, son Riley, his parents, Patricia and
Michael, his brother, Tom and a sister, Jackie, 21, also of South Lake Tahoe. [KBL]

From MSNBC msnbc.com 10/23/08:

Fallen but not forgotten: Sgt. Timothy Smith
By John Rutherford, Producer, NBC News, Washington

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.
Sgt. Timothy M. Smith, 25, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., 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."

9 September 2008:
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.”
Soldier from Lake Tahoe dies in Iraq

The Associated Press

RENO, Nev. — A soldier from South Lake Tahoe was killed in Iraq when the vehicle he was in was struck by a roadside bomb, the military announced Wednesday.

The Department of Defense says Army Sgt. Timothy M. Smith died Monday in Baghdad.

Smith, 25, was assigned to the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, located at Fort Polk, La.

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons issued a statement expressing his condolences to Smith’s family, and ordered flags at the state Capitol to be lowered to half staff in his honor.

Gibbons said Smith’s mother lives at South Lake Tahoe, and his father lives in Reno.

“I would like to offer the state of Nevada’s most sincere thanks and heartfelt condolences to Sgt. Smith’s family and friends during this difficult time,” Gibbons said in a written release.

“I truly hope that as everyone who knew him copes with his death, they find some comfort knowing that the state of Nevada, and the entire country, is safer because of his sacrifice.”
Army Sgt. Timothy M. Smith remembered

The Associated Press

Family members remembered Timothy M. Smith, who rappelled out of second-story windows at age 10, as a happy, independent, stubborn child who had the uncanny ability to liven up a gathering.

“Timmy was an amazing, amazing person,” said Jackie Smith, his sister. “He always had a way of putting a smile on a person’s face, no matter what the situation.”

Smith, 25, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., died April 7 in Baghdad after his vehicle struck an explosive. He was a 2001 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Polk.

He loved snowboarding, four-wheeling and cooking for his wife.

He had completed a tour of Afghanistan and was a good break dancer — and he was a hugger.

“I’ll always remember his bright red hair,” said Teresa Ortiz, whose son was a longtime friend of Smith’s. “He was such a happy kid. That smile walked into a room before he did.”

He is survived by his wife, Shayna Richards-Smith, and a 1-year-old son, Riley.

“Every leader wants his soldiers to end up being better leaders than he is, and for the first time, Sgt. Smith, I’m going to say this: You were,” Sgt. Sammy Baker said at the funeral.

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