The nephew of my good friend and neighbor from my hometown, Bethany, WV, was killed in action in Iraq:
Michael J. Smith Sr., the grieving father of a local man killed in Iraq, spoke Monday about his son’s wish to wear a police uniform but who first chose a uniform of a soldier. Marine Lance Cpl. Michael J. Smith Jr., a 21-year-old serviceman and a Wellsburg native, was killed in a skirmish in Iraq last week during his second tour of duty in that country.
The elder Smith agreed to speak to local media about his loss at the Wellsburg Detachment of the West Virginia State Police. He was accompanied by State Police Sgt. Dave Robinson and Marine Capt. Jeremy Dempsey and 1st Sgt. Scott Seese, the two who had delivered news of Smith’s death to his family.
The elder Smith said growing up, his son liked all policemen-the state troopers, the deputies and the city policemen. He looked up to all of them. A former state trooper of 21 years, Smith admitted to being an influence as well.
Smith said his son enlisted in the Marines soon after his graduation from Brooke High School in 2001 because, “he wanted to be a state trooper, and he felt that when he got out, that would give him the best chance at doing that.”
An Air Force veteran, Smith said the Marines weren’t the first branch he would have chosen for his son. “I kind of shook my head and said, excuse me?” Smith said. “I tried to tell him go into the Air Force, but in his mind, it (the Marine Corps) was a better stepping stone to what he wanted to do.”
Holding a red ballcap bearing the letters “USMC” in gold on the front and the words “Proud dad” on the side, Smith said he’s proud of his son’s service to his country.
Military personnel have said Michael J. Smith Jr. died while attempting to help a sergeant in his regiment while under enemy attack in Iraq. He was one of four reported killed near the country’s border with Syria.
According to my mother, he was shot while jumping on top of his wounded Sgt. to protect him. Such a shame.