Sunday, December 31, 2006

Army Specialist Richard A. Smith

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Richard A. Smith, 20, of Grand Prairie, Texas

Spc. Smith was assigned to the 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Dec. 31 in Baqubah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated while on a combat patrol. Also killed was Cpl. Jonathan E. Schiller.

Dallas Morning News --During the short time he served in the Army, Spc. Richard Anthony Smith gained recognition as the 1st Cavalry Division's soldier of the year.

Spc. Smith, 20, who believed he was called by God to serve in the Army, was killed by a roadside bomb on New Year's Day while driving a Humvee with his unit northeast of Baghdad. Another soldier also died in the attack, which injured two other soldiers.

Spc. Smith had started his tour of duty in Iraq in October and was a driver for a commander. He had been trained as a dietitian and cook, but that work is done by civilians in Iraq.

He and his wife, Amber Smith of Arlington, were expecting their first child in three months. Spc. Smith married his high school sweetheart in July 2005 after completing boot camp.

"He loved her so much," said his mother, Barbara Speer of Grand Prairie. "He told me that the worst thing he could think of was if he died there ... because he wouldn't want to hurt her."

She said her son had transformed his life since marrying Ms. Smith.

"He became very passionate about the Army and about doing what God was trying to tell him to do," his mother said. "I cried because I didn't want him to go into the service at first. Then he told me, 'Mom, I'm going because God called me, and you can't cry.' "

Spc. Smith was born in Arlington, where he grew up, with the exception of time his family spent in Whitehouse in East Texas.

Spc. Smith was taking college courses and intended to get a degree after his military service was complete, his mother-in-law said.

In 2004, Spc. Smith graduated from Summit High School in Mansfield, where he met his wife-to-be when they were both juniors.

"They'd known each other for five years," said his mother-in-law, Diane Hipple.

In addition to his wife and mother, Spc. Smith is survived by his father and stepmother, James and Tammy Smith of Frisco; a brother, Andy Preston of Grand Prairie; and two sisters, Denise Thompson of Arlington and Jessica Preston of Grand Prairie.

Army Specialist Richard A. Smith was killed in action on 12/31/06.

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