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Army Sgt. 1st Class Tara J. Smith

Died August 8, 2009 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

33, of Nashville, N.C.; assigned to the 50th Signal Battalion, 35th Signal Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Aug. 8 in Bagram, Afghanistan, from a non-combat-related incident that occurred Aug. 4 at Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan.

Smith juggled motherhood, service

The Associated Press

From the time Tara J. Smith was a child, she was energetic as a wasp: “She’d sting, hit you and keep going,” recalled her brother, Earl Coley.

Friends and family remembered that energy as key to her ability to juggled so many roles — sergeant, wife, mother. And she always made sure her sons, 6-year-old Jordan and 8-year-old David, were taken care of.

“Her kids were her No. 1 priority,” said Sgt. 1st Class Yolonda Chaney, who served with Smith.

Smith died Aug. 8 at Bagram Air Base of a noncombat-related medical condition. She had complained of fatigue a few days earlier, and was taken to a clinic at the airfield after being told to rest.

Chaney also said Smith’s appearance and work were impeccable.

“She was always squared away,” Chaney said. “It was always everyone else before her.”

Smith enlisted in 1997 and was assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C. She deployed to Camp Phoenix outside Kabul in January, and had previously served overseas in Kuwait and South Korea.

She was not only an outstanding leader, but also “a bright and charming young woman who will be missed by all,” said her battalion commander, Lt. Col. Brian Foley.

She is survived by her husband, Army Sgt. Deron Smith; her sons; her mother; and a sister and brother.

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