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Army Sgt. Gerrick D. Smith

Died July 29, 2009 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

19, of Sullivan, Ill.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry, Illinois Army National Guard, Marion, Ill.; died July 29 in Herat, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident.

Illinois soldier posthumously promoted

The Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A 19-year-old central Illinois soldier who died of a non-combat-related injury in Afghanistan late last month has been posthumously promoted.

The Illinois Army National Guard says Spc. Gerrick Smith of Sullivan has been promoted to the rank of sergeant. He died July 29.

Smith enlisted in the Illinois National Guard in February 2007. This was his first deployment.

Smith was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry based in Marion. The unit had been in Afghanistan since December 2008.

Visitation is being held at 3 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday at Sullivan High School. Graveside services will be held following Saturday’s visitation at Greenhill Cemetery in Sullivan.

Smith made the extra effort to keep friends laughing

The Associated Press

Gerrick D. Smith knew even before he graduated from high school in 2008 that he wanted to be in the military. He joined the Illinois Army National Guard in his junior year.

“If you needed someone to have your back, Gerrick was that guy,” longtime friend and fellow soldier Tyler Craven said. “He would stand up with you to the bitter end.”

Smith, 19, of Sullivan, Ill., died July 29 of a noncombat-related injury in Herat, Afghanistan. His death is under investigation.

He was based in Marion, Ill. It was the first deployment for the former football and soccer player and choir singer from Sullivan (Ill.) High School.

Friends described him as an energetic performer who tried to make people laugh by occasionally goofing off — even once putting on a dress — and occasionally drew tattoos on friends during study hall.

Sullivan police chief John Love said he saw a change when Smith returned to town with a deep pride about serving his country.

“He left here as a kid and came back as a soldier,” Love said.

Smith is survived by his parents, Marilyn Smith and David Jones, a sister and a half-brother.

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