Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

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

Army Capt. Benedict J. Smith

29, of Monroe City, Missouri.
Smith died when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter he was in was shot down by unknown enemy ordnance in Tikrit, Iraq. He was assigned to 101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Died on November 7, 2003.

Please send information, photos, and corrections for Army Capt. Benedict J. Smith.


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Leave a message in memory of this servicemember, and/or to the loved ones left behind.

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"Someone found a remembrance bracelet for this fallen soldier. Follow this link.
Jenene Heavey of Springfield, MO

"Miss you so much Doby!! We made a great team and I wouldnt have wanted to be a platoon leader with anybody else."
Holly Beth

Can't believe its been 10 years. Me and Chad will be visiting your memorial today. The last 10 years have been long but the memory of you remains just as strong and hurts just as much. I continue to pray for your family."
MSG Todd Andrew of FTCKY

"Its been 10 years dude. I can't believe it. I think of you and Maggie often. I wear your bracelet everyday. I'm over in the other desert now but I'm going to visit you when I get home. I still tell people to eat pork, just for you. I'm always surprised at how many people I run into that knew you. I miss you bro. Thanks for some great memories. I'll never forget the magic marker fight we all had at my house. Rest easy."

"Ben and I were roommates at West Point, and I remember a kind and fun guy who didn't take life and West Point too seriously - he was principled and light-hearted. I miss you, Ben! To his family - you raised a wonderful and principled man, and I'm sorry for your loss."
Jeff Weeks of Gainesville, VA

"It has been 8 years...I'll never forget your sacrifice and the lasting impression you left. Thanks for everything."
Chris Pillow of Houston, Texas

"Can't believe its been 8 years since you and the crew of 431 went down. left a Mt. Dew for you at the memorial today. Gods speed."
SFC Andrew

"Ben. You were not only one of the greatest soldiers I had the pleasure of serving with, but also one of the greatest men I had the honor of knowing. Every time I drink a Mt Dew I think about you. You were a true friend and I miss you daily."
Spc Timothy J. Murray of Corinth, TX

"CPT Smith,
It is a great honor to have met you. I admire your service and the great sacrifice the Smith family has endured. America is great because of men like you. We will meet again. I salute you."
Dave Sims of Overland Park, KS

"Ben was a great guy. We had the same major at West Point and he helped me graduate. I was in Iraq when I heard he was killed. That was a huge loss for both everyone who knew him and this great country."
Rich Harding of Wheaton, IL

"November 7, 2008
To the family of Capt. Benedict J. Smith:
Benedict 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"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"GREAT NEWS… the Monroe City Council decided to rename their airport in honor of Ben. On Saturday, 4 October 2008 (Ben's birthday), they will hold a ceremony unveiling the new sign, "Captain Ben Smith Airfield". The location is Monroe City, Missouri. Please spread the news to all our friends and comrades. Hope to see you there for this truely perfect way of honoring Ben."
Maggie of Fort Rucker, AL

"I want you to know that it is not a day that goes by, I have not thought about CPT Smith and the rest of the crew of Acft 431. I was the last one to talk to him before he flew on Aircraft 431. I hope his Family is holding up, and even though it has been Almost 5 years coming this Nov., It feels like it happened yesterday. May God forever Keep his Family safe and together."
1SG Baker, Lepharis of B Co (Lancers) 5-101st Avn Regt Fort Campbell, ky

"Dear Family of Benedict Smith:

To honor the Missouri soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families, the professional portrait artists of the Grateful Hearts project are offering to paint a portrait of the individual soldier for his family.

These 16"x20" original portraits are being offered completely free of charge in recognition of the sacrificies made by these brave soldiers and in condolence for their families loss.

For information,please email us at gratefulheartsproj@sbcglobal.net

The artists of Grateful HEarts"
J.Gragg of Lee's Summit,Mo.

"CPT Smith, you left a lasting impression on me. 431 will be a part of my life forever."
SGT John Lawless of Ft. Rucker, AL

"Dear Ben - Not a day goes by that I don't think of you. You are a true American Hero who graced the lives of all who came to know you. From the time I met you when you were a Cadet at West Point until your last day on earth, I and many who knew you were so very fortunate to have done so. I cherish the memories of you coming to our home and spending time with us; especially my daughters. They looked up to you and considered you the big brother they never had. I know in my heart that heaven exists and that a special place was prepared for you there upon your passing from this earth. God Bless you and your family always. Until we meet again..."
LTC Jim Brandon of Pentagon, Wash DC

"To the family of:Benedict J. 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"

"CPT Smith,

Sir I miss you so much, I wanted to say I hope you know that you made a huge mark on my life, along with the other soldiers that served with you in the 3 shop. I will never forget you!"
SGT ERIK KING of formerly 5-101 Ft Campbell, KY

"I contacted herobracelets on line and ordered bracelets to honor our servicemen. I received Capt Benedict J. Smith on my bracelet. I honor him by wearing the bracelet everyday and by praying for his soul, and for his family daily. He and all the other brave men will not be forgotten. If this message gets to Capt. Smith's family please except my regrets for your terrible loss. Rest assured he is not forgotten. God bless you. deannagy@comcast.net"
Dean Nagy of St. John, Indiana

"Benny and I were in the same company at West Point, drove home to Missouri for Christmas together a couple of times, drank more than a few beers in Egypt during grad leave the summer of '99, and stayed in touch afterwards. The last time I saw him was at Fort Stewart right after 9/11. He was a great friend who I'll always have great memories of, and he and his family are in my prayers."
CPT Shawn Russell of 5th SFG (A)

"I never knew Ben the soldier or really Ben the man, but I was proud to see what he had become, when our paths crossed. Ben and I were cousins who lived a day's drive apart, he in Missouri and I in northern Illinois. Ben and I were very close in age, and closer in temperament. We were cut ups that bonded over Cracked and Mad magazines and Dr. Demento radio. I'd say I was amazed that he chose the military because free-spirits like us rankle under the discipline, but I'm sitting here waiting on my bar exam results. The biggest jokers are really just looking for their arena.

It was bittersweet for me to come to Ben's funeral to get a sense of the man he had become, to hear from Maggie and his comrades in arms what a leader he had become. Yet the boy I knew winked out here and there in the stories too, and I mourned that. I never thought I'd see a whole lot of Ben as our lives progressed - he following the whirlwind military life and me building a life down in Texas. The times we did connect, though, were warm reminders of childhood and the pleasant surprise that we still fell back into step, and our new wives and friends seemed to fall right in, too. My son is a year old now, and he will never know Ben, but Ben wasn't a person who died and left a hole - he gave so much of himself each day that we all still have a piece of him. I look forward to sharing that with my son."
Eric of Arlington, TX

"St. Charles Democratic Alliance held a Tribute & Memorial to the 20 fallen soldiers from Missouri on 3/19/2005, the 2nd anniversary of the War in Iraq. Four families of the fallen attended the event, and nine families shared messages that were read during the tribute by Connie Greene, sister of fallen soldier Jamie Huggins. The event aired on all four local newscasts (Fox KTVI, KPLR, KSDK, KMOV.) Biographies of each of the fallen soldiers were read while photos of the soldiers were displayed. The event also included Bible readings, songs, keynotes speeches by Rev. Jason Samuel and Viet Nam Veteran Ken Peters, and a fellowship in the church hall immediately following the tribute. Our organization was sensitive to the fact that even though information on Missouri’s fallen soldiers is a matter of open record, we had to go beyond the name, rank and serial number – we needed to share information on the fallen soldiers from the family’s perspective and present a tribute that each of the soldiers would have approved of. This was a day for honoring Missouri’s finest, as well as the sacrifice the families made, and continue to make every day. Special thanks to the Burkhardt, Gottfried, Huggins and Spink families for traveling long distances to Transfiguration Church in Lake St. Louis to participate in this community tribute. (anngastler@charter.net)"
Ann Gastler, St. Charles Democratic Alliance of St. Peters, MO

"I am organizing a 3/19/2005 Tribute & Memorial Service Honoring Missouri's Fallen Soldiers, hosted by St. Charles Democratic Alliance. We plan to have a spiritual memorial tribute planned to honor the 18 fallen Missouri soldiers who died in Iraq. We wanted to let you know your beloved isn't forgotten and invite you to this tribute. If you're not able to be in Lake St. Louis on 3/19/05 but would like to send a message or letter that we could read on behalf of your family, again, we'd be honored. Again, my deepest sympathy and please know that Ben is in my prayers."
Ann Gastler (anngastler@charter.net) of St. Peters, MO

"CPT Smith,

I did not know you personally but felt I did when attending your funeral. I was honored to have met your family and assisted with your service. Your family is very strong and I have never experienced anything such as that with your community and the support they gave in that sad time. The Army and the Aviation Corps were lucky to have a hero such as you and your wife and family. The people of Monroe City, Missouri are truly what a community should be modeled after. You, Your family and the people of Monroe City are and will always be a true heros in this NCO's eyes."
SFC Patrick Collins, MI, USA, Casualty Assistance NCO of Scott Air Force Base, IL.

"There will always be a place in my heart and my poker table for Ben. The Angels are now blessed with his presence."
CPT Jerome Guerrero of FT RUCKER, AL

"CPT Smith,
We dedicated a memorial to you today. I miss you. I got to meet your mom and dad today. It helped. I think of you everyday. There is so much i wish i would have said to you that day. I prayed you were ok when we came to get you. i know it was selfish but i wanted you to be alive. I will never forget you or let others forget your sacrfice. your death has hit me like no other. I miss you.
your friend SSG Andrew"
SSG Todd Andrew of Ft Campbell KY

"Benedict J. Smith- You are a hero. Thank you for all you did. To the family- It's coming close to one year and I want to say I'm sorry for your loss and I pray God is with you all."
Alicia Bilby of Nevada, Missouri

My prayers and thoughts are with you always. I will always remember talking to you and Ben the day you guys deployed. Ben was an amazing, stellar officer. He always presented the best attitude and held to the highest level of professionalism. I hope to see him again one day. I will always pray for your peace and comfort. Your sacrifice will NEVER be forgotten"
CPT Heidi (Ridenhour) Ratliff of Ansbach, Germany

"CPT Maggie Smith:
Ben brought you so much joy. I want you to know that our family really thought so highly of Ben despite not having had much time to get to know him. I'm certain you feel the same way. Everything we'd ever seen of or heard about Ben was just stellar!

I'm so sorry that we weren't able to be at the wedding. We are very concerned about you as well. We'll be in Ft. Collins in June. If you are in the area please contact us at saseigel@earthlink.net.

Our Tears and Prayers are always with you, our dear friend!

Scott, Virginia, Alex and Ben Seigel"
Scott Seigel of Camp Humphreys, South Korea

"Low Flight"

Dedicated to Benedict J. Smith

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth,

And Hovered out of Ground Effect on Semi-Ridgid Blades.

Earthward I've Auto'ed, and met the Rising Brush of Non-Paved Terrain;

And done a thousand things you would never care to.

Skidded and Dropped and Flared Low in the Heat Soaked Roar.

Confined there, I've chased the Earthbound Traffic

And Lost the race due to Insignificant Headwinds.

Forward and up a Little in Ground Effect,

I've Topped the Admirals hedge with drooping turns,

Where never SkyHawk nor even Tomcat Flew.

Shaking and Pulling Collective, I've Lumberd

The Low untresspassed Halls of Victor Airways;

Put out my Hand, and Touched a Tree.

Today Benedict you Fly with Angels. Thank you for your Dedication and Sacrifice. Godspeed Captain..."
Dennis B. Dray MAJ (R) ARNG of Tucson, AZ

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

Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Benedict, will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"I had the honor of getting to know CPT Smith and his wife while we were in Kuwait. I was the Pay Agent for the 50th Med (Eagle Dustoff) and he was the Pay Agent for 5-101st. Though, we only talked on a few occasions; it was obvious that he was a professional officer who loved his job. He will be missed."
CW3 William (Marty) Martin of Fort Rucker, AL

"Thank you Benedict 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

"MONROE CITY, Mo. — A former northeast Missouri man who was killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq once told his mother that he knew the military he hoped to make his career could cost him his life — but that he would be at peace dying in a helicopter. “Ben has always been one to go for a challenge,” Mary Sims said of her brother, Army Capt. Joseph B. Smith, who was killed Nov. 7 in the crash near Tikrit.Smith, his sister said, “was very proud of his service,” believed in the American military role in Iraq and assured his family that he would be OK. “We’ve always been worried about him being over there, but you operate under the assumption that he’ll be fine. He didn’t want us to worry about that stuff,” Sims said. Still, “He once told mom that he knew he could be killed but that, if he died in the helicopter, he would be happy.” Moments before his takeoff, Smith, 29, said in an e-mail to his family back home that “I’m flying around some big general today. That will be good for me to get out of the office for a day.” Smith died later Friday when the Black Hawk helicopter assigned to the Fort Campbell, Ky.-based 101st Airborne Division went down in a crash. Smith’s parents got the grim news later that day when an Army officer drove to their farm near this northeast Missouri community. “We had all heard on the news about a Black Hawk going down that morning and wondered if he could be him,” Sims said. “As soon as dad saw the officer’s uniform, he knew what it meant.” Smith was a member of the 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Brigade, Fort Campbell officials said. Sims said her brother told them the general was to have been in a second helicopter. Smith joined the Army about a decade ago after graduating in 1993 from Monroe City High School, where he participated in track and was a second-team all-conference basketball player his senior year, Sims said. Smith graduated from West Point in 1999 as a second lieutenant, then attended flight school at Fort Rucker, Ala., where he learned to fly the Black Hawk. Smith then was assigned to the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell and was sent to Iraq in March. Last December, Smith married his wife, Maggie, who also is a Black Hawk pilot on duty in Iraq. The couple had no children. “He and his wife tried to see each other as often as possible while serving in Iraq,” Sims said. “His faith was important to him; that has helped him during his time over there.” While in Iraq, Sims said, Smith contacted his Missouri family at least twice a week, last having visited Monroe City at Christmas. Smith planned to return to his hometown in March. Sims described her late brother as funny, loving and courageous."
Proud Family of Swinkey, MO

"To the family and friends of Capt. Benedict 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 Benedict 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 Capt. Benedict 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 Benedict, 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