Sunday, January 03, 2010

Air Force Senior Airman Bradley R. Smith

Remember Our Heroes

Air Force Senior Airman Bradley R. Smith, 24, of Troy, Ill.

SAr Smith was assigned to the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron, Fort Riley, Kan.; died Jan. 3, 2010 near Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained while supporting combat operations.

Airman was based at Army post
The Associated Press

TROY, Ill. — The Defense Department says an airman from southwestern Illinois was killed by a bomb blast in Afghanistan.

Senior Airman Bradley Smith, 24, of Troy died Jan. 3 near Kandahar Airfield. He was assigned to the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron, Fort Riley, Kan.

Jim Wiens, Smith’s pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Troy, says Smith followed in his brother’s footsteps when he joined the Air Force in November 2006.

Wiens says Smith’s wife had a daughter in October, who Smith didn’t get to meet before he died.

The pastor says Smith’s parents arrived Jan. 4 at Dover Air Force Base, Del., to receive their son’s remains.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

A Troy IL airman was killed on Sunday after a roadside bombing in Afghanistan, resulting in the first American combat deaths of the year. Bradley Smith, 24, of Troy, was among three airmen who were killed, according to Smith's pastor, the Rev. Jim Wiens, a worship pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Troy.

"Brad was definitely a leader in a lot of respects," Wiens said. "He had influence with our kids. He was faithful and he showed the way for kids to be there consistently. He would follow through: When he said he would do something, he would do it."

The incident and casualties could not immediately be confirmed with the U.S. Department of Defense.

Smith was among four U.S. service members who were killed Sunday by improvised explosive devices.

A statement from NATO's International Security Assistance Force said the explosion that killed the U.S. service members took place Sunday in the south, but did not give further details on the location or the victims' branch of service.

Smith's family traveled to Dover Air Force Base to receive his remains Monday night.

"He believed it was a good cause and worthwhile to do," Wiens said. "Both of those guys are solid supporters of the need to fight these wars. In spite of the risk, he was willing to be involved in that."

Smith followed in his brother's footsteps, and joined the Air Force in November 2006, Wiens said.

He was deployed to Afghanistan last month. He served as a tactical air command and control journeyman.

"Brad was just this real likable, friendly, respectable kid," Wiens said. "He liked to have fun, but he took his responsibilities very seriously. He grew up really hard, strong: When he grew into a man, he was a man."

Triad High School Principal Robert Sudhoff said Smith, who graduated in 2004, played football all four years and was active with the school newspaper, The Knightwriter. "He was a very outgoing, good kid," Sudhoff said. "He was an easy kid to talk to. Some were pretty quiet, he was not. I talked to a number of faculty members today who remember him."

Smith's former football coach, Paul Bassler, said Smith thrived in the team atmosphere. "He wasn't the star on our football team, but he loved to be on our football team and he brought that joy to practice every day," Bassler said. "He was just the ultimate team player. I expect he was an outstanding comrade, if he treated them the same way he treated his teammates here in Troy."

"It's a good thing to be part of something like that, but you've got to understand that in the military, the ultimate sacrifice is your life," Bassler said. "The community's going to miss him. We've lost not only a fine soldier, but a fine citizen to this community."

Smith is survived by his parents, Gary and Paula Smith; his wife, Tiffany, and their daughter, Chloe Lynn, who was born in October and who he never got to meet; and an older brother, Ryan Smith, who is also in the Air Force, based in Texas . Ryan was due to deploy to Iraq later this month but will not be going.

Air Force Senior Airman Bradley R. Smith was killed in action on 01/03/10.

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