Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Army Spc. Brandon W. Smitherman

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Brandon W. Smitherman, 21, of Conroe, Texas

Spc. Smitherman was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Bliss, Texas; died Oct. 31, 2007 in Mosul, Iraq, of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations. Also killed was Capt. Timothy I. McGovern.

Soldier's sacrifice celebrated

Harvey Smitherman is an investigator for the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office, serving the people of Grayson County. As adept as he is at hearing and seeing tragic news, Smitherman was not prepared to be on the receiving end of tragedy.

Last week Smitherman received news that his son is one of the casualties of the Iraqi war. Army Spc. Brandon W. Smitherman, 21 of Conroe, was one of two soldiers killed while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom in Mosul, Iraq. The Department of Defense reported that the two soldiers died Oct. 31 of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat operations. Both soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division of Fort Bliss. The other soldier was Cpt. Timothy I. McGovern, 28, of Indiana.

Ricky Wheeler of the GCSO said about 15 uniformed members of the department will attend Spc. Smitherman’s funeral at 1 p.m. Friday in Conroe.

A report from the Houston Community News online aptly described Smitherman’s final homecoming as one of tears and honor. The roads in Conroe were lined for miles with people wishing to pay homage to a fallen warrior.

“From North Loop 336 West to Texas 105 West, hundreds of residents paid their respects with salutes and signs honoring Smitherman,” stated the news report. “At the end of the procession in front of Metcalf Funeral Home, a large U.S. flag hung across the highway from the ladders of two Conroe Fire Department trucks.” The report said young Smitherman is the fourth Montgomery County soldier to die in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007. The county has lost 11 soldiers since those wars began.

Spc. Smitherman was a 2004 graduate of Montgomery High School. His father, Harvey Smitherman, said the young man was “a hard-working kid growing up. All I ever had to do was tell him what I wanted him to do. He might not like doing some things I told him to do, but he did it and didn’t complain. And when he went in the military, he was a go-getter and always wanted to help somebody.”

When asked about Spc. Smitherman’s motivation to join the Army, the senior Smitherman said, “He told me he wanted to go so I would be proud of him. He wanted to go to college and major in criminal justice. His goal was to be a game warden. He wanted to be in law enforcement like me.”

Harvey Smitherman said Brandon was “a loving son who loved his family and loved his country. He felt he was supporting freedom for all of us.”

A quick Internet search on Spc. Smitherman reveals a plethora of statements attesting to his fine character and the great number of friends and family who’ve been touched by his life and death.

Grayson County Sheriff J. Keith Gary released a statement Thursday afternoon to say he and his department members are deeply saddened by the loss for the Smitherman family. “We share in the loss of such a fine young man, but we also share in the pride Brandon’s family had in his service to his country.”

Like so many other youngsters Brandon’s age, he had a page on the World Wide Web on which he communicated things about himself and stayed in touch with others. Brandon said this about himself on his Web page: “There is not much to say about myself, but if u know me then u know that I am a good guy ... I can’t wait to get home and relax, being with my family.”

Harvey Smitherman said his son was scheduled to come home on leave Dec. 14. He had a plan to come home unannounced and walk into his mother’s workplace to surprise her. Following his leave he would have gone to Fort Bliss to finish his time in the Army.

“Coping has been difficult, but family and friends have made the difference,” Harvey Smitherman said. “A father losing a child ... you don’t think you’ll be able to make it through, but with prayers and family and friends ... The military has been great to send people to support us. We go to Victory Life Church and the support there has been tremendous. This (Conroe) is my home town prior to moving to Grayson County.”

Smitherman said that some of the people in battle with his son have said Brandon went after a person who was trying to harm them. He put himself in harm’s way to be able to protect others. He was a driver of a Bradley tank.

The family has said, instead of flowers they would like to see donations to the Spc. Brandon William Smitherman Memorial Fund, account No. 1072800 at First Bank of Conroe. Proceeds will go to buy a holiday care package for Smitherman’s unit in Mosul, Iraq.

Army Spc. Brandon W. Smitherman was killed in action on 10/31/07.

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