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Army Sgt. John M. Smith

Died May 12, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

22, of Wilmington, N.C.; assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Irwin, Calif.; killed May 12 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Iskandariyah, Iraq.

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Soldier killed in Iraq laid to rest

Associated Press

WILMINGTON, N.C. — A Wilmington native who always wanted to be a soldier was buried Saturday in a national cemetery among some 6,000 other service members who died in their country’s service.

Sgt. John Smith, 22, died May 12 when a roadside bomb exploded next to his convoy in Iskandariyah, Iraq.

“Smitty was a great soldier,” said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Mitchell of the 82nd Airborne Division at Smith’s funeral. “He died doing what he wanted to do.”

Brig. Gen. Mike Ferriter of the 82nd Airborne Division presented Smith’s mother, Judy Smith, with four medals — the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Iraqi Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.

Sgt. 1st Class Mitchell presented Mrs. Smith with the American flag that was draped over her son’s casket. She dabbed away tears as she pressed the folded triangle of red, white and blue to her chest.

During the 21-gun salute, seven members of the New Hanover High School lacrosse team stood dressed in their orange jerseys, lacrosse sticks in hand. As the salute rang out, the lacrosse players raised their sticks in honor of Smith.

“We’re here out of respect,” said Dixie Dobyns, a parent and member of the school’s lacrosse booster club. “We didn’t personally know him.”

Smith, who spent all four years at New Hanover High School as a JROTC cadet, also played football, baseball and lacrosse before he graduated in 2000. He was in Iraq training the Iraqi national guard during his tour with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, based at Fort Irwin, Calif.

He was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg before joining the California unit.


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