Veterans

September 11, 2012

Silver Star presented for fallen Airman’s ‘gallantry in action’

Tags:
Karen Petitt
Scott AFB, Ill.

Senior Airmen Mike Malarsie and Bradley Smith pose for a photo during their Afghanistan deployment. An improvised explosive device attack mortally wounded Smith and injured Malarsie Jan. 3, in Afghanistan. The two tactical airlift control party Airmen were assigned to the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron at Fort Riley, Kansas.

Dressed in a silver and black dress, 3-year-old Chloe Smith stood beside her mother, Tiffany, as they accepted a Silver Star award Sept. 9 in honor of Senior Airman Bradley R. Smith who was killed in action at the age of 24 in Afghanistan Jan. 3, 2010.

Maj. Gen. Lawrence L. Wells, 9th Air Force commander, presents the Silver Star to Tiffany Smith, widow of SrA. Bradley Smith during a ceremony Sept. 8, 2012 in Troy, Ill. Smith spent only a few weeks with his new daughter, Chloe, now almost age 3, before deploying to Afghanistan where just months later he was killed by an IED during a firefight. As a Tactical Air Control Party member, or TACP, Brad was part of a two-man team assigned to support a 13-man Army platoon and was trained to call in close air support should the men come under fire and need the battlefield neutralized from above.

Maj. Gen. Lawrence Wells, 9th Air Force commander, presented the medal “on behalf of a grateful nation and even more grateful Air Force” to Smith’s widow, his parents, Gary and Paula Smith, and to TSgt. Ryan Smith, Brad’s brother, during a ceremony in Troy, Ill.

Upon receiving the award, Tiffany said she was thankful for the efforts of everyone who took part in seeing that Brad received the honor he had earned.

“When I first learned of what Brad did, I wasn’t filled with pride like I am today,” she said. “Quite frankly I was very upset at him and would just yell out ‘Why didn’t you keep your head down?’ or ‘Why couldn’t you have just been a coward … just this once?’ In the midst of my tantrum, a good friend reminded me that Brad wasn’t trying to be a hero, and that he wasn’t trying to do anything more than what he thought was right and necessary … and that ‘coward’ wasn’t a word that he knew.

“Over time I could see that he was just being true to the kind of man that he was. He was my hero long before his death. His passion for life, love for his family and dedication to always bettering himself is what made Brad my hero. This Silver Star solidifies what I already knew about my husband, and it will serve as a reminder of the hero that he truly was … both in the way he lived and died.”

Wells recounted the significance of the Silver Star – the third highest award for military members – and said that Brad exemplified heroism in combat.

“Brad’s life embodied gallantry in action, which started long before the tragic event that took his life,” he said. “On Sept. 11, 2001 – Brad’s 16th birthday – he watched with the rest of the world as terrorists attacked the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. It was only five short years later that he joined the Air Force and brought his talent to the fight for the Global War on Terrorism. When he enlisted, he became part of the one percent of Americans who proudly serve our nation … knowing that he would be called to action during a time of war.”

As a former football player for Triad High School, Brad knew what it meant to be part of an elite team like the Tactical Air Control Party, explained Wells.

Members of the Smith family prepare to receive the Silver Star in honor of SrA. Bradley R. Smith, who was killed in Afghanistan Jan. 3, 2010. From left are Brad’s brother, TSgt. Ryan Smith and his wife, Shawna,and parent, Paula and Gary Smith of Troy, Ill. The Smiths have been instrumental in keeping Brad’s legacy alive through an annual 5K run and by serving other parents who have lost a child.

“You have to be the best of the best … and Brad excelled [at everything he did]. I stand in awe of everything he accomplished in just four short years of Air Force service. …Our TACP warriors are not common men. They are uncommonly brave … committed to leaving no one behind and always demonstrating valor in the face of the enemy. Duty first, always ready. Well done our good and faithful servant.”

The Silver Star traveled 370 miles from Fort Riley, Kansas, carried by members of Brad’s unit, the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron during a 24-hour ruck march that ended in a heavy downpour as the entire team walked the last mile into town. Other TACPs from the 168th and 169th ASOS Guard units from Peoria, Ill., joined them in formation for the award ceremony.

SrA. Ben Nobles, 10th ASOS, said the ruck march was a physical memorial to show support to the Smith family.

“It was hot and physically challenging,” he said, “but we were all motivated to do this for Brad.”

Also marching with the unit was Senior Airman Mike Malarsie, who was with Brad the day he was killed. Malarsie was Brad’s TACP partner and they were trained to call in close air support should the Army platoon they were assigned to need “help from above.” Their patrol entered a village when an IED triggered, killing two soldiers and seriously wounding Malarsie. Brad and Army medic Brian Bowman went to his aid and got him to safety. After continuing to direct close air support, Brad and Bowman went to retrieve the body of one of the fallen soldiers when the second IED triggered, killing both men instantly.

Tactical Air Control Party specialists from the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron, Ft. Riley Kansas, stand in formation during a Silver Star medal presentation for SrA. Bradley Smith Sept. 8, 2012 in his hometown of Troy, Ill. Smith was killed in action while serving as a TACP in Afghanistan Jan. 3, 2010. Members of the 10th ASOS spent a week ruck marching his medal 370 miles from Kansas to Troy for the ceremony.

Though blinded, Malarsie continues to serve on active duty, and spoke fondly of Brad during the ceremony, recalling several conversations and humorous moments that shed light on Brad’s personality.

“We had nothing but fun … even in some of our firefights,” he said. “We loved our job … we were mostly concerned with protecting the guys on the ground. I don’t remember a whole lot about that day, but what Brad did was not surprising … that’s who he was, and it was an honor for me to have served with him. His legacy will live on.”

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn also addressed the audience and said that while “God did not give Brad a long physical life, he gave Brad a purposeful life.” He praised the Smiths for raising sons with high moral values and offered his thanks to them for their continued service to other parents who’ve lost a child.

“It is the duty of the living to ensure our heroes are not forgotten,” he said. “Brad had a servant’s heart … and our faith teaches us that we will see him again.”
No one knows that better than his mother, Paula, who said Brad would be embarrassed by “all this commotion” surrounding him today. But, that he’d also be humbled by the show of support, and the kindness and generosity of everyone who has made this possible. She recited Brad’s favorite scripture that spoke to being “strong and courageous … do not be discouraged … do not be terrified, for your Lord God will be with you wherever you go.”

“There have been many days filled with grief, loneliness, heartache and sadness,” she said. “But then there are days like today filled with hope, compassion, friendship, unity, extreme thankfulness, pride … celebration and remembrance. There is no greater love than this … that a man lay down his life for his friends. Thank you everyone for making this a wonderful day.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines October 29, 2014

News: Unmanned rocket explodes just six seconds after taking off - A NASA rocket due to be visible across the East Coast on its way to the International Space Station has blown up on the Launchpad. IG: Former chief of wounded warrior office broke law, DOD regs - The Defense Department inspector general has recommended “corrective action”...
 
 

News Briefs October 29, 2014

F-35C makes first landing at Virginia Beach Navy base The Navy says an operational F-35C joint strike fighter has landed at Naval Air Station Oceana for the first time. Naval Air Station Oceana is the Navy’s master jet base on the East Coast. The Navy says the plane came to the Virginia Beach base Oct....
 
 

Time to turn to American technology for space launch

For the first time since the Cold War, the United States has deployed armored reinforcements to Europe. To counter Russia’s aggression, several hundred troops and 20 tanks are now in the Baltic. Yet the U.S. military is still injecting millions into the Russian military industrial complex. In late August, the United Launch Alliance – the...
 

 
Air Force photograph by Joe Davila

Boeing, Air Force demonstrate Minuteman III readiness in flight test

Air Force photograph by Joe Davila Boeing supported the launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Sept. 23, 2014. Boeing supported the U.S. Air Force’s succ...
 
 

Pentagon going to court for refusing to release Sikorsky data

PETALUMA, Calif. – The Pentagon is refusing to release any data on any prime contractors participating in the 25-year-old Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program. The American Small Business League launched a program in 2010 to expose the fraud and abuse against small businesses the CSPTP had allowed. As a test the ASBL requested the most...
 
 
Northrop Grumman photograph

Raytheon Griffin C flight tests demonstrate in-flight retargeting capability

Northrop Grumman photograph Northrop Grumman has received a contract from the U.S. Marine Corps for low-rate initial production of the AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR). G/ATOR is the first ground-based multi-mi...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>