Army Pvt. Daren A. Smith, 19, of Helena, Mont.
Pvt. Smith was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Polk, La.; died Dec. 13, 2007 in Baghdad of wounds sustained in a non-combat-related incident.
Governor order flags flown at half-staff for fallen soldier
The Associated Press
HELENA, Mont. — Gov. Brian Schweitzer has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff Dec. 21-22 in honor of a Helena soldier who died in Iraq.
The body of Army Pvt. Daren A. Smith, 19, will arrive in Butte on Dec. 20, said Maj. Garth Scott of the Montana National Guard.
His funeral is set for 10 a.m. Dec. 22 at Wayrynen-Richards Funeral Home in Butte. It will be followed by a graveside service at 12:30 p.m. at Fort Harrison, near Helena.
Smith died last week in Baghdad of injuries that weren’t related to combat, the Department of Defense said. The death remains under investigation.
Smith was in a unit sent to Iraq from Fort Polk, La. Samantha Evans, Fort Polk media affairs officer, said Smith joined the Army in March 2007 and arrived in Louisiana in August.
“Everything else is under investigation,” she told the Independent Record newspaper. “A non-combat injury can be anything not dealing with actual combat. I wouldn’t speculate a guess. There are a lot of things that could include.”
Smith was born in Butte and lived there until he reached middle school, when he moved to Helena. He graduated from Helena High School in 2006 and completed a semester at the University of Montana-Helena College of Technology, Scott said.
In Iraq, Smith served in a small platoon that moved ahead of larger units and scouted out conditions.
Efforts to contact his family Dec. 18 were unsuccessful.
In Smith’s honor, Schweitzer has ordered that national and state flags be flown at half-staff beginning Dec. 21 and ending Dec. 22 at sundown.
Body of Montana soldier arrives home
The Associated Press
BUTTE, Mont. — The flag-draped casket of Army Pvt. Daren Smith, who died in Iraq, arrived in Butte on Dec. 20 to dozens of family members and friends who gathered at the city’s airport to pay their respects.
Smith, 19, died Dec. 13 in Baghdad of non-combat-related injuries. He is the 22nd Montanan serving in the military to die in Iraq. The Department of Defense hasn’t release any additional details about the death, which is under investigation.
Bad weather delayed Smith’s flight to Butte for a few hours, and his family was given the option of canceling the flight and receiving the body in Helena, said honor guard coordinator Denny Lenoir. The family rejected the idea.
“They wanted him to come home,” Lenoir said.
Smith was born in Butte and lived there until he reached middle school, when he moved to Helena. He graduated from Helena High School in 2006 and completed a semester at the University of Montana-Helena College of Technology.
He joined the Army in March and was deployed to Iraq on Nov. 29.
Smith served in a small platoon that moved ahead of larger units and scouted out conditions.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. at Wayrynen-Richards Funeral Home, followed by a graveside service at 12:30 p.m. at the Montana Veterans Cemetery at Fort Harrison near Helena.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer has ordered the national and state flags to be flown at half-staff through sundown Dec. 22.
Hundreds line streets to honor Helena soldier killed in Iraq
The Associated Press
HELENA, Mont — Hundreds lined the streets of this Rocky Mountain town Saturday to honor a Helena soldier killed in Iraq.
Army Pvt. Daren Smith was laid to rest at the Montana State Veterans Cemetery here.
Smith, 19, died Dec. 13 in Baghdad, less than two weeks after being deployed to Iraq with the 4th Brigade Combat Team. His cause of death remains under investigation but is being termed “non-combat related” by the military.
Smith’s body was flown to the Butte airport on Thursday, and a private memorial service was conducted there Saturday. The funeral procession then drove the 66 miles to Helena, where people unfurled flags over Interstate 15 and lined the streets to show their respect for the fallen soldier and his family.
Mourners paced along the road into the Veterans Cemetery at Fort Harrison as they waited for Smith’s hearse to arrive, their faces reddened by the 20-degree temperatures and crisp northeast wind. A riderless horse followed the hearse, a silent testament to Smith’s training with the 5-15 Cavalry Warlords.
Smith’s grief-stricken family and friends declined to talk to reporters, but his obituary describes him as a cool-headed, honest guy who loved to get dirty and wrestle with friends and dreamed of becoming a film producer.
He grew up in Butte but moved with his family to Helena in 2000, where he attended Helena Middle School and Helena High, graduating in 2006.
“He was the kind of guy who would do anything for you,” a teary-eyed friend told the Independent Record. “He was just a great guy,” said the man, who declined to give his name.
Smith’s mother, Debra Smith, was given the folded flag that had been draped over his casket, and as she laid a bouquet of red and white flowers on the casket, four balloons — a red one, a white one, a blue one and a star-shaped green one — drifted into the skies.
“I just want to pick him up and hold him,” she said, sobbing quietly.
Army Pvt. Daren A. Smith died of non-combat related injuries on 12/13/07.
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