Sunday, January 24, 2010

Marine Lance Cpl. Zachary D. Smith

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Zachary D. Smith, 19, of Hornell, N.Y.

LCpl Smith was assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died Jan. 24, 2010 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

A marine from the City of Hornell has died in Afghanistan. Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan tells News 10 Now that Lance Corporal Zach Smith, a 2008 graduate of Hornell High School, was killed in action this weekend.
Mayor Hogan says he learned about the incident Sunday morning and believes Smith was killed by an improvised explosive device. Hogan says Smith is the first person from Hornell to die in the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“This is the first time that the brutality of war has really knocked on our community’s door and delivered a message that, you know, war is brutal and unjust and not fair in any way. This young man was a tremendous young man and he will be missed and this is a tremendous tragedy,” said Shawn Hogan, Hornell Mayor.

Mayor Hogan has ordered all city flags to be flown at half staff until Smith’s body is returned home.

“He always wanted to be a Marine. It’s something he always wanted and looked forward to. He was taking after his uncle Matt. That’s why he joined the Marines,” said his grandfather, Sid Smith of North Hornell.

Smith’s grandmother, Alice Smith, spoke for all in the Hornell area who knew him. “He was a great kid,” she said, adding, “Full of life and and love, always on the up. He had a lot of friends and was a thoughtful boy."

Mayor Shawn Hogan said the Smiths are his neighbors on Mays Avenue and he was deeply saddened by the news.

“He grew up across the street from me and he always brought a smile to my face and happiness to my heart because he was such a warm personality … It’s almost like a part of my family is gone. I just know this is a big loss for the community. You often hear about these brave young men dying and it’s always somebody else’s brother or son. Now this is something we have to cope with,” said Hogan.

Hogan ordered the city flags flown at half staff Sunday morning until Smith’s body is returned home.

“The brutality of war was dumped at our door step this morning and it’s ugly,” Hogan said.

Known by those close to him for his sense of humor and athleticism, Smith touched the lives of many coaches at Hornell High School.

Mickey Carretto retired from the HHS football program after the 2008 season. Carretto coached the Red Raiders offensive line and linebackers from 1998 to 2008.

“I’ve known him since he was a baby,” Carretto said. “He was one of the most sincere, honest, nice kids that you’ll ever meet up with. Always a smile on his face and he always had a great positive attitude. He always took the time with the younger kids, he took them under his wing so to speak. In fact, he treated my little girls like gold. They’re as devastated as anybody right now … You can’t say enough good things about him. A?blue-chip kid who will be missed by everybody.”

Gene Mastin, HHS athletic director and head varsity football coach, spoke to the same degree of the soldier, neighbor, friend and family member that remains on so many minds.

“They don’t come any better,” Mastin said. “If Hornell ever had a favorite son it was probably Zach Smith. He was universally liked. Everything about him was good,” he said. “Devastating. You deal with so many great kids and Zach was right at the top of the list. I can’t imagine … he was just everything that was good about any kid growing up today. He was just one of the best, most well-respected kids we’ve had in our school.”

Mastin said the pair formed a close bond over the years without effort.

“I don’t know but we did,”Mastin said. “He was just one of those kids that was so easy to like. And such a hard worker. He called me every week of every game, throughout the playoffs and things like that … You get close with people, and this was somebody I was going to be close with for the rest of our lives. A great kid and a great family. One of those things that you really grapple to find words for. Just devastating.”

He and his wife, Anne, were high school sweethearts. He was a football player, she was a cheerleader.

Smith is survived by his wife, Anne (Deebs) Smith, whom he married last summer; his brother, Nathaniel, 23; his sister, Grace, 10; his parents, Christopher Smith, an Amity-based state trooper who is the Canaseraga Central School resource officer, and his wife, Kim, and his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Mike and Andrea Deebs of Hornell.

Marine Lance Cpl. Zachary D. Smith was killed in action on 1/24/10.

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