Friday, November 19, 2010

Marine Sgt. Jason T. Smith

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Sgt. Jason T. Smith, 28, of Colorado Springs, Colo.

Sgt. Smith was assigned to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Branch, Headquarters and Headquarters Sq, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Marine Corps Bases Japan, Iwakuni, Japan; died Nov. 19, 2010 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.

A Marine who graduated from Doherty High School in Colorado Springs died Friday while on patrol in Afghanistan, his family said Monday.

Sgt. Jason T. Smith, 28, was killed less than a month after starting his first tour in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device detonated, said his mother, Loretta Smith. He had previously served two tours in Iraq.

A member of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Branch, he was based out of the Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan, according to the Department of Defense. “He was excited that he had finally found his niche,” Loretta Smith said. “He was very proud of that.”

Born in Aberdeen, Wash., Smith moved between Kansas, Iowa and Utah before settling in 1993 with his family in Colorado Springs. He spent three years at Coronado High School before spending his senior year at Doherty High School, where he gradated in 2000. Soon after, he joined the Marines with his best friend.

The decision wasn’t hard, said Loretta Smith. Rather, she said, he chose the Marines because of one thing: boot camp. “It was the hardest and the longest boot camp,” Smith said. “And they wanted the hardest and the longest.” What followed, said fellow Marines, was a career marked by a unique talent to teach.

Before joining the Marines’ explosives unit, he served as a primary marksmanship instructor at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina, training Marines how to use their pistols and rifles.

“The guy could have told me to do anything and I would have done it without hesitation,” said Sgt. Michael Brown, stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. “He was just one of those people you just follow no matter what.”

When not studying or scoring at the top of the class in shooting exercises, Smith would listen to rock music and play horseshoes and cards. Again, he was at the top of his class.

“He was good — cutthroat,” chuckled John Quinn, who was with Smith during training to become an arms instructor. But he was also a vivacious man, his family said, one who “never met a stranger — ever.”

When not disarming bombs, he would fish and play basketball. Growing up, he wanted little else than to play professional basketball for the Utah Jazz, said his cousin, Robyn Winge, 31, of Harrisburg, S.D.

The only problem in this plan: He found the Marines. “That’s all he’s ever known is the Marine Corps,” Winge said. “And he loved it. He absolutely loved the Marine Corps.”

His childhood friend Joshua Burgreen said Smith's body was flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware late Sunday night. Burgreen said the two grew up together and graduated from Doherty High School in 2000. Both talked about joining the Marines from an early age and they served together after graduating high school.

Smith served with the Marines for more than a decade. His friend said Smith's job was to track down and disable explosives. "He chose to be explosive ordinance disposal because their mission out there was critical for the success of everyone else out there, and even though he knew it was the most dangerous job you could possibly choose in the Marine Corps, he still did it," said Burgreen.

"They're very proud of their son, very proud," Burgreen said

His awards include the Combat Action Ribbon, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Marine Sgt. Jason T. Smith was killed in action on 11/19/10.

No comments: