Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Marine Sgt. Benjamin K. Smith

24, of Carterville, Illinois.
Smith died due to enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California. Died on September 22, 2004.

Please send information, photos, and corrections for Marine Sgt. Benjamin K. Smith.

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"Mudcat. Never forgotten. Carterville boys will never forget our friends sacrifice.."
Garrett Drew of Houston Tx via Carterville IL

"Sgt Smith was the one hell of a marine. You will always be remember. SMITHY!!!!!
Delta Co. 1st Tanks Bn. OOH RAH"
GUS of Ventura, CA

"Ben, since that day when we laid you to rest in 2004, there hasn't been a day that you and your family left behind, do not enter my thoughts. You are sadly missed and the sacrifice you paid for our Freedom will never ever be forgotten. I know one day we will all meet again. Until then, God holds you safe in his arms."
Tracy Jule and Family of IL USA

"To the family of Sgt. Ben "Smitty" Smith,

My name is Robert Dimas, I served with Smitty in Delta Co. and he was one the best Marines and friend I have ever met. Smitty would give you his last dollar if you needed it or take your weekend duty so you could go out! He always looked out for his fellow Marines and did everything he could for them. I miss him and he is never far from my thoughts. I am very thankful to have been in Ben's life and to have been called his friend. I remember when Smitty got his first tank command. It was steel night in 02 and he buried his tank and threw track. Top Mumy gave him hell for it but it is memories like these that keep Smitty close. He was a great Marine and more importantly a great Person. I am truly sorry for your loss. Tanker995@vzw.blackberry.net"
Sgt. Robert A. Dimas of Beaumont, CA

"I met Smitty when he first checked into Delta Co, I served with him up until I was sent on recruiting duty. I have alot of memories of Smitty and I think of him everyday. One memory is when Ben was a PFC and I was a Corporal and I was going through a very rough time in my life (my first divorce) and I had my infant son for the weekend and I was completely broke and Ben gave me 20 bucks and said go feed your son and do somthing fun with him. When some of us talk about Smitty I always think about how he would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. The last time I saw Ben was when he came home from Iraq the first time and I took leave from my recruiting command to go see the boys! My last night there Smitty and I stayed up all night talken and having some well earned Makers Mark. That was the last night I spent with a fellow tanker and brother on active duty in the Marines. I got out Jan. 15 2004 from recruiting and moved to New England for awhile and one day I came home from work and somthing told me to call Blanchard and when I did he told me he had just came out of the BN. XO's office and he told me about Ben. We cried and we spoke about our fallen brother. I really wanted to be at SGT. Smith's funeral and pay my respects to his family and there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of him. I miss him so much! Semper FI Brother
hazlettrm@gmail.com"
SGT. Ryan Hazlett of Portland, OR

"August 22, 2008
To the family of Sgt. Benjamin K. Smith:
Benjamin gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
www.IraqWarHeroes.org"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"MY NAME IS KYLE DOYLE MY BROTHER IS CURRENTLY SERVING IN IRAQ FOR THE SECOND TIME, I WANNA SAY IAM SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS BUT IAM VERY THANKFUL SUCH A MAN EVER LIVED, ITS MEN AND WOMEN LIKE SGT. SMITH THAT WE ARE FREE AND I HOPE TO FILL HIS BOOTS ONE DAY BY SERVING THIS COUNTRY ALTHOUGH I COULDNT EVEN BE HALF THE MAN HE WAS MAY GOD BLESS THE SMITH FAMILY AND TEARS ARE IN MY EYES RIGHT NOW... THE ONE THING THAT MAKES ME CRY READING ABOUT MEN AND WOMEN WHO GIVE THEIR LIVES FOR THIS GREAT NATION. MUCH RESPECT GOES TO THE FAMILY."
KYLE DOYLE of HAGERSTOWN, MD

"I went to High School with Smitty, and there are many,many,many times I think of him and Jamie, and I just want you all to know that I love all of you like family. Everytime I hear the song "Back Where I Come From"--Kenny Chesney, I think of you. Just so you know, the song "Not A Day Goes By", only fits for the first verse---But it takes my breath away, and I always seem to cry when I hear it, Ben, I know we never really talked in school, but know this----when we had the candlelit service for you at the flagpole, I cried harder than I had ever had in my life.. I remember passing you in the halls, and having a couple of classes with you. Just know that you will always be in my thoughts and memories. Oh, and by the way--------this beer is for YOU!!!!!!!!! Love You--XOXOXOX"
Trinity Latch class of '00' of St. Joseph, MO-64506

"To the family of:Benjamin K. Smith I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. My heart cries out for you in your grief and you have my thoughts and prayers. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully we will all meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need prayer or need someone to talk to, please call or write my pastor: Rev. John Pearrell 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015. Your friend in Jesus Christ, Polly Ballew Covington,Ga"

"My name is Cameron Schilling and I have started “Portrait of a Soldier” which donates a portrait sketch of every Illinois soldier who has fallen in Iraq or Afghanistan. All 122 sketches will be on display for a Memorial Day Presentation in Chicago, Illinois on May 26-31 at the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. After the ceremony the sketches will be given to the immediate families of the Illinois soldiers. I would invite any friends or family members to come and honor these men and women from Illinois who have given their lives to our country. For more information please contact OperationHomeFront.org at 866-417-8889 which is an organization headed by the Lt. Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois who is in charge of the Memorial Day Presentation. Thank You.

Please check out www.portraitofasoldier.org
To contact Cameron email cameronschilling84@hotmail.com
To contact Operation Home Front call 866-417-8889"
Cameron Schilling of Charleston, Illinois

"My heart broke when I learned that "Smitty" was gone. He and my husband were friends we had parties where he always made me laugh. He was so funny. Sometimes I can still here his voice. I will miss him greatly. With love Smitty, Watch over David for me!"
Chrystal Sprague (SSgt David Sprague) 1st Tank Bn of 29 palms Ca

"I couldn't believe it when I heard the news. Smitty was gone. I'd known him since the very first day I got to D co. If you knew Smitty, you liked him. He was a great Marine, and his professionalism defied his easy-going nature. I feel glad that I got to shake his hand and wish him luck before he left. Cpl. Moore and I had given him a headache or two I'm sure, but I respected and admired him. He was someone who inspired and most importantly, he made you laugh. God bless the family that he left behind. I'm proud to have known him. The REAL D Co. will always remember you, Smitty."
Cpl. Jospeh J. Weber of 29 Palms, CA

"My name is Cameron Schilling. I am a college student from central Illinois. I am the first generation of my family not to serve his country. I am extremely grateful for the sacrifice you and your loved one has given for the United States. I am disappointed by the way the news media has covered this war and the deaths of our youth. The media has stopped listing the names of the soldiers killed in Iraq and people only talk about the soldiers when we reach a specific milestone in deaths. If you just started watching the news today you would not even know there is a war going on. Partisan politics have replaced coverage of our young generation who have traveled to a foreign land in the name of the United States. Whether you believe the war in Iraq is wrong, right, justified or not everyone should pay even just a little more attention to what these young men and women are sacrificing. This is what I would like to do. I want to do my part in honoring these soldiers and their memories. Along with being a college student I am also a budding artist. I draw pencil portraits of local people in my community. I want to offer a pencil portrait sketch to the immediate family of every Illinois soldier killed in Iraq. Please contact me at cameronschilling84@hotmail.com."
Cameron of illinois

"To the Family of Sgt. Benjamin Smith:

My friends and I have constructed a memorial to the service men and women from Wisconsin and Illinois who have died in Iraq which includes, as of 7/12/05, 112 crosses and Stars of David. We would like your permission to put Benjamin's name on one of them. If you would like us to do this, please email me at ArlingtonMidwest@yahoo.com.

We have called our display "Arlington Midwest" and it is located in Wisconsin Dells, WI. It is our expression of mourning for the indescribable loss you have suffered for our country.

We invite you to visit Arlington Midwest. I can send you directions and some pictures by email.

"As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us,
as we remember them."
Marty Preston of Wisconsin Dells, WI

"God Bless You Brother. Too Soon, yet teaching the new about sacrifice, Gone never Forgotten."
Cpl. Thomas Wagner USMC of 29 Palms, CA.

"This message goes out to the SSgt. James Sturla, on behalf of the Smith Family and Kerri, we want you to know that you are in our prayer's and always will be. I'm Ben's Aunt, and we all look forward to meeting with you soon. We would like to say "Thank You" for your kind words and your Sacrfice for our Country. God Bless You and Your Family. contact us: Rlilwhite@papadocs.com
Sincerely, Ben's Aunt Patty"
Patricia Church of Highland, IL

"As a former Marine in 2nd Tanks and Iraq vet I would like to say to the loved ones of Sgt Smith that I am sorry for your loss. I never knew him but I will always consider every Marine a part of my family. And to SSGT Sturla, thanks for your leadership when we served together and the best of luck in your recovery."
John Shonkwiler of Las Vegas, NV

"My son, SSGT James Sturla was with Benjamin when they were hit by the RPG. My family has kept all of you in our prayers and will continue to do so. SGT Smith will always be our hero. God Bless you!"
Kathy Sturla of Pompton Plains, NJ

"Thank You:
On behalf of the Smith family and myself, I wanted to say thank you for everyone's support. We are truly blessed to know that people recognize the sacrifice that every one of our military men and women make, and how hard it must be. Thank you for all your kind words and prayers. We are all proud of Benjamin, and we will always thank God that we were blessed to have him here with us, even though it was for such a short time. God took him home a little earlier than we expected, but we are comforted in knowing we will see him again. God Bless all of you, and on a personal note to all of Ben's comrades, our families would love to be able to talk to you also. We can can be contacted via e-mail at the following address: KerriAnn80@aol.com
Thanks again for everyone's support.

Kerri Ann
(Sgt. Smith's girlfriend/fiance)"
of Ontario, Ca

"My name is SSgt James Sturla and I was standing less than three feet from Sgt Smith when we got hit by a RPG. My condolences go out to the Smith family. I think about it everyday, and I wish I could of done something. I was seriously injured, and do not know if I will be able to stay in Marine Corps. I will never forget Sgt Smith. I hope someday I will be able to sit down and talk to the Smith family about what occured. He was a great man. I'm sorry. God bless."
SSgt Sturla of Jacksonville, NC

"TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY MEMBERS OF SGT BENJAMIN K. SMITH - MY NAME IS SGT RONNIE HERNANDEZ JR AND I WAS STATIONED IN 29 PALMS IN 1ST TANK BN D CO ALONG WITH SGT SMITH. WE ALL CALLED HIM SMITTY. SGT SMITH AND HIS FAMILY WILL ALWAYS BE IN MY PRAYERS , SGT SMITH YOU ARE MY HERO AND THROUGH THE MARINE CORPS YOU WILL LIVE FOREVER.
SINCERELY,
THE HERNANDEZ FAMILY"
RONNIE HERNANDEZ JR of WACO,TX

"Sergeant Smith, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"To Ben's Family and Friends:

On behalf of the Blanco-Caldas family, we send our sincerest condolences. We share the same loss ... the same pain. Our prayers are with you in this most difficult time and we thank you for your soldier's bravery and sacrifice.

Sincerely,

The Family of Capt. Ernesto M. Blanco-Caldas, 82nd Airborne
KIA Iraq 12/28/2003.
Gloria Caldas (The Big Ern's Mom) of San Antonio, TX
gloria.caldas@banksterling.com"

"We Will NEVER FORGET !"
Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Benjamin, will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"My deepest sympathy, our family has also suffered the loss of a precious life in this battle for freedom. May God bless you and help you through this time. Forever in our hearts a HERO Benjamin K. Smith"
Amy & Aaron Monier of Waterford, MI.

"To the family and friends of Sgt. Benjamin K. Smith,

Those we hold most dear, never truly leave us. May you find comfort in love's everlasting connection.

In the Support section of this web site you will find links to many groups that support you at this crucial time. The Marine Comfort Quilt group would be honored to send a quilt to the next of kin. There are many, loving and caring Americans from all over the United States that will never forget the sacrifice that your loved one has made for our Freedom. Please register so we can send you our "Love Stitched Together."

Proud Marine Mom and Proud Member of Marine Comfort Quilts"
Sandra Moudy of Placentia, Ca

"To Benjamin's Family:
There are no words to express the sorrow we feel for your loss. May God bless you and help you through this time."
Dan and Meg Manninen of San Antonio, Texas

"Thank you Benjamin Smith, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"To the family and friends of Sgt. Benjamin Smith:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Benjamin for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Sgt. Benjamin Smith:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Benjamin, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on