Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

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

Army 2nd Lt. Brian D. Smith

30, of McKinney, Texas.
Smith died in Habbaniyah, Iraq when he was shot while conducting combat operations. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 34th Armor, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas. Died on July 2, 2004.

Out of curiosity, I entered the name of my fallen friend, 2nd. Lt. Brian D. Smith into Google and was taken to your site. I saw the request for photo and profile information and wanted to send some along. I've enclosed a photo of Lt. Smith and the following information:

Brian D. Smith, of Austin, TX joined the army at age 28 as a man who had nothing to gain and everything to loose. He was newly married and a practicing attorney. But Brian wanted to put his mark on something and to make a difference, so he left his job as a lawyer and joined the army. He joined the mechanized cavalry as an armor officer and was deployed to Iraq as a platoon leader in the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor, 1st Infantry Division.Lt. Smith was shot in the chest under the arm while checking the tread and suspension of his tank and died on July 2nd, 2004.

Much has been made in the media in Austin and in Lt. Smith's home town of McKinney, TX about his leaving the legal profession to become a soldier, but there is much more to his story than his being a lawyer cum soldier. Brian was the treasured son of Dr. William and Linda Smith, he was the beloved brother of Dr. Erin Smith and he was the cherished husband of Kathleen Carroll-Smith. To all who of his many, many friends, Brian was the smart, quick witted non-conformist who made everyone laugh. Everyone who knew him marveled at the depth of his intelligence and the rapidity of his wit. His observations on life, philosophy, politics and religion would leave everyone around him sore with laughter - a laughter that will never be replaced.

Brian & Pam Martin of Leander, TX

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"As we approach Memorial Day, I can't help but think of my friend Brian. We were high school classmates in McKinney. I regret not staying in touch after we left for college, but I fondly remember his wit and intellect. I remember learning of his enlistment, and I couldn't help but think "wow, what a major change after starting a legal career." However, I understood completely, and that just increased my respect for him immensely. I remember the call from a mutual friend after learning of his passing, and it sure struck me hard.

I think about him often, and wish I could be listening to him tell stories of his exciting army career instead of remembering his sacrifice nearly 10 years ago. He would have been an outstanding career leader in the Army, and that is confirmed by the comments of his soldiers here.

The world is a lesser place without him here! Godspeed, Brian."
Scott Sellmeyer of Wichita, KS

"My girls thank you Brian. Parker is the artist and Rikka is on the verge of taking over Cuba. They are beautiful and they would not have this life if it were not for you. I cannot express my own personal thanks in words bud! Not a day goes by brother. Rest well."
Your gunner of Habbinyah

"To the family of LT Brian Smith,

First, please allow me to extend my deepest sympathies for your loss. I did not know LT Smith, but I saw how his men cared for him (If I knew nothing else that would be enough). I was with LT Smith at the end and was the acting medic on scene. I was a Sergeant with Alpha Company 1-16 Infantry out of Ft. Riley KS.
It feels awkward to write, for I don't know the right words to say except that I think about that day often. LT Smith's sacrifice impacted the course of my life.
Please accept my heartfelt sorrow for your loss."
SSG Russell Walters of Knoxville, TN

"Dear Kathleen,
My name is SGT Jon Adam Martin I served along side Lt Smith on his tank I was a part of his tank crew when I was just a PVT we always talked about family and you were always held in such high praise. I was by his side on the 2nd day of july. This day will stay with me for the rest of my life. Brian was an outstanding leader, officer and friend if you do read this and I hope you do please try to contact me at yozi23@hotmail.com I would like to talk to you so that you can hear my voice and let me tell you in more than words written how much I miss Brian and how I wish he were there for you and your children. Please if anyone else reads this and knows how to get ahold of the family do not hesitate to let me know I have wanted to do this for some time now and I finally feel I can."
SGT Jon A Martin of Savannah GA

"Dear Brian,
I find hard to believe it has been so long since we lost you. You are not forgotten, but your wit and humor are missed. You know that your son is you all over again, and the world is so lucky.
Thank you for the sacrifice you made for us."
Ivarr of Bjornsborg

"Remembering my friend...

Brian was a dear friend and he had a gold standard wit. His muse couldn't have looked like anyone elses... perhaps like some wild-haired history professor riding a Harley... I don't know- no words seem quite to fit. He could find humor in the most common tasks. One of my best memories of being with him involved parking cars, of all things. I have rarely had that much fun.

I'm as thankful for his wit as I am that he died having given up all his comfort and security for ours.

I still miss Brian."
C.W. of Leander, TX

"July 8, 2008
To the family of 2nd Lt. Brian D. Smith:
Brian 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

"To the family and friends of 2Lt Brian Smith,
Tonight I was surfing the net and I came upon this site. Though I did not know Lt Smith for very long, I knew him long enough to know that he was a courageous person that left his mark on history.
My name is 1SG retired Ruben Ochoa and I was the company First Sergeant of the unit he was assigned too in Habbaniyah, Iraq, A Co, 34th Armor, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Div out of Fort Riley, KS. I remember Brian arriving in Iraq and I was one of the first persons he talked too. After a proper introduction, Texas became the topic of conversation and so both of us being from Texas, had much to talk about. Brian was a quiet person but one that observed everyone. He took notice of those positive things which made him become a better leader. To his parents, thank you for raising such a fine gentlemen and officer. I know he gave up much to become a Soldier, you raised him well. To his wife Kathleen, though I never had the pleasure of meeting you, my wife did. She often spoke of you and described you as the sweetest person. It has been a while since we lost this fine officer but not a day goes by where I do not think about both Brian and Neil.
Brian was an officer with intelligence and was witty. On many occasions he made me laugh. On my wrist I wear a remembrance bracelet with his name on it; I think it is in only fitting as I never want to forget Brian. He was a fine officer but was even a finer person."
1SG(R) Ruben G. Ochoa of Fort Knox, KY

"This man was a positive force in the lives around him. He wasn't perfect; he was a very human being like the rest of us. We cherish memories of people like him and the good things he gave to others. Everyone has to die sometime ... somewhere: he died while trying to make a positive difference in the lives of others. I believe that he will seen once again on the other side."
D. Knudson of Anchorage, AK

"Soldier fathers child two years after dying in Iraq:

Two years after his father died, his son, Benton Smith, was born

CNN of Washington

"To the family of:Brian D. 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"

"Our deepest sympathy to Brian's family. He is sadly missed.
The Wilson Family"
1LT Eric N. Wilson of Fort Drum, NY

"I just wanted to say that I'm a Baylor student and I wear a bracelet bearing Brian D. Smith's name at all times. Stories of sacrifice such as that of Brian are things most Americans don't want to hear about but Brianís is one that I will never forget."

"LT Smith:
Your story inspired me. I joined the Army from being a stockbroker. I am going to OCS the following year, if I don't deploy to Iraq this year. I have always wanted to do great things in my life and to live life to the very fullest, conquer my fears and make a difference. People like you will always be remembered. Thank you, soldier and may you rest in peace. To LT Smith's family, my heart goes out you. My thoughts and prayers are with you. You will always have a family in the Army. God Bless..."
PFC Romero of Illinois

"I don't know you, Brian. But, I lost a father to 'nam and I came thru Desert Shield & Storm. I came here via a comment on Fark.com in response to a news story which indicated that losses thus far in Iraq are "negligible" -- a friend of yours posted a pic of your headstone and made mention that your death was definitely not negligible. I concur and it motivated me to follow the link that was contained in your friend's comments.

To the family and friends of Lt. Smith, I extend to you condolences for your loss. The ultimate sacrifice made by Brian and others should remain prominent in our minds and hearts -- even those who don't know anyone serving in today's military. All those that go to war should be remembered daily and it should be a goal to find out more about the "names" and know those individuals had lives and dreams and hopes just like all of us.

Rest in peace, Brian. Know that on this evening someone who never knew you took the time to read your story and will keep your family and friends in his thoughts."
Gary X of Aurora, Colorado

"Lt. Smith was my platoon leader out in Fallujah. I was the gunner for his wing tank. I was also one of four that shared a room with him. Though I wasnt there on the day he died and only served under his command for a short while, know this, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about him and all my fallen brothers in arms that I proudly fought side by side with. Heres to the fallen from 1-34 armor, 1-16 infantry , 82nd airborne, and to all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, " I WILL NEVER FORGET ". To his family : It was an honor and a privilege to have severd with your son, my prayers are with you To : Lt. Smith , Sir, thank you for all that you have done , for me, for your platoon, and your country. You are deeply missed."
Sgt. Calderon " ATTACK 32G " / " WARDAWG 32G " of Ft. Riley , K.S.

"Brian Smith's story resembles so much that of our Son's, LCPL Marine Dimitrios Gavriel, KIA on 11/19/04, in Fallujah.
An Ivy League graduate from Brown University, he joined the Marines in October 2003 at the age of 28, driven by his ideals and values. He wanted to "play a role and watch the world change from a front row seat" (as he put it in one of his letters from Iraq). Like Brian, he left a promising career on Wall Street, an exiting and comfortable life in NY city and a large group of (saddened) friends, who adored him and whom he loved dearly; he also had nothing to gain and everything to lose. A bright, intellectual, well read and witty young man he could easily qualify to become an officer. Yet, he opted to start as a grunt; he used to say "how else would one know how to lead grunts, unless one becomes a grunt...". He believed that honor, valor and integrity must be today's leaders' qualifications, so that they can be effective and successful.
Learning the life stories of such great men like Brian and Dimitri reveals another dimension and view of the noble human spirit, yet unknown to many in our material and pleasure-driven society. Hopefully, their ideals will serve as examples for others to follow.
We will all miss them dearly; but their heroic legacies will remain alive long after the rest of us are gone form this life. They have accomplished in their short lives a lot more than few have in a long lifetime.

Penelope Gavriel, Mother of Dimitri
(e-mail: gavrielp@comcast.net)"
Penelope Gavriel of Haverhill, MA 91830

"Brian Smith was my best friend. I missed him dearly when he joined the army. I miss him more, now.

The only solace I find in his death is the fact that he died doing what he wanted to do. He wanted to be a combat soldier. He wanted to lead. He wanted to fight.

Brian, please don't forget us, because we won't forget you. Please don't forget the $20 you owe me. I promise not to forget the endless favors I owe you."
Chris Mackey of Austin

"Dear Brian,

This Thanksgiving Day weekend will mark one year since we last saw you in person. While we will always cherish this holiday and have many things for which to be thankful, it will also carry a certain sadness as the anniversery of our last gathering with you. We'll always remember you sitting on the couch regaling everyone with your stories of the army and, as usual, making us laugh until we cried. We will remember you this Thanksgiving and forever, and when we gather to remember everything for which we are thankful, one very important thing to be remembered will be our cherished freedom - a freedom that you and your fellow soldiers maintain at so high a cost. Thank you, friend, brother, soldier. You are remembered and we are grateful."
Brian & Pam of Leander, TX

"Brian was a true wit with an unfailing determination to live what he believed. During our years at Baylor Law School, I always marveled at Brian's ability to stand apart from the crowd never afraid to stand alone. He was always pleasant and pensive at the same time. I was deeply saddened to hear of his passing. What a testimony of the American Spirit. May God bless his family."
Angela Albers Converse of Rockwall, Texas

"Dear Brian,

You may have passed from this world, but you'll always live in our hearts, our memories and in the stories that we tell of your life. You were well loved and you will not be forgotten."
Your Many Friends

"Like so many of Brian's friends, I was shocked and saddened by the news of his death in early July. I just recently received news of an acquaintance who was injured in Iraq while flying in his Huey (the same aircraft my husband will soon fly in Iraq). Reading the news stories online lead me to look up stories that have been posted about Brian. I found this website and I just wanted to express my support for his family and friends. I regret that when I got the news of Brian's funeral I had just returned to my temporary home in California from a trip to Texas. I wish I could have been there as part of a show of what a remarkable person he was."
Karen (Suddath) Coakley of Oceanside, CA

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

"To my Friend Brian,

We too feel regret that perhaps you never knew just how important you are to us, just how much we love you. I hope you know now and are looking down in peaceful pride at how important you are to so many. Your choice to leave behind a life of comfort and ease to serve others is a example to us all. As always, you sought the high-road, not necessarily the easy road and I thank you for that. You told me you felt you owed something back, any debt you may have had is far overpaid, my friend, and I look forward to thanking you in person. We love you and miss you, Brian, and we cannot wait to see you again."
Chad and Sarah Torres of Austin, Texas

"Brian was a bawcock and a heart of gold. A lad of life, an imp of fame.
Of parents good, of fist most valiant.
I kiss his dirty shoe..."

Written by Shakespeare, but so very appropriate for my most noble and goodly friend.

You are greatly missed.

Steve Wick, former tank platoon sergeant, 1/67 Armor and 1/124 Cav."

I have an apology to make...

I wasn't on your email distribution list and every time I heard folks talk about your letters, I kept reminding myself to send you a note to ask you to add me...and I never did. After reading them all after your death, I realized how much I regret not remembering well enough to actually ask. Losing such a close friend is going to stick with me for a long while... a long, long while.

Before reading your posts I just didn't understand why you chose to do this...but now I have a better insight. As you mentioned, "I needed to do something for and by myself". I just wish the cost hadn't been so high. You were a good officer and an honorable man. I would have cherished serving under you.

I'm reminded of one of my favorite lines from "The Shawshank Redemption"...Red: "Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."

But I prefer to remember you from Andy's perspective: "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

Brian, thanks to your incredible sense of humor and your unfaltering sense of honor, in my heart, you will never die.

Rest in peace my friend...and hero. Time to weigh your heart against the feather....I know you'll find your way.

Steve Hemphill of Leander, TX

"Dear Brian - You probably never knew how much you meant to us. It was a joy to have known you and to have been your friend. We doubt that we'll ever again encounter a wit as sharp or a spirit as free as yours. We will forever treasure your memory and grieve your loss. We'll also always regret never telling you how much we cared for you. We just always thought that there would be more time. Our prayers are always with you, your mom and dad, with Erin and with KC. God speed, good friend; you are our hero and we love you."
Brian & Pam of Leander, TX

"Lt. Smith Sir,

You have paid the ultimate sacrafice for America. It's because of men like you that we are allowed to live in the Greatest Country on Earth. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are very grateful, Sir. You are a Great American.

God Bless You, Sir."
Ron D. Wilson of Atlanta, GA.

"To Brian'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 his bravery and sacrifice.


The Family of Capt. Ernesto M. Blanco-Caldas, 82nd Airborne
KIA Iraq 12/28/2003.
Gloria Caldas (Ernie's mom) of San Antonio, TX

"Keep up the good fight Bro. We'll carry your spirit with us always"
A Fellow Ansteorran of Tx

I knew you in passing, for a day at most, 8 hours at least. For that day we went through breifing after briefing regarding IRAQ and its situation. I had gone in first and was going back again for a second tour, you overheard me talking to the new privates telling stories. You would hang around and listen offering a comment every now and then. I noticed that you paid attention and filed little bits and pieces of info away to save for later. You were a good person Sir, I noticed that right off. A little tense and apprehensive, but that was to be expected after all. You were a good officer, Sir, and you developed into a fine leader. I wish you well on your journey, Sir, may god welcome you for your heart, your faith, and your soul. May comfort and love be felt by your family from him for all time."
SGT Mahoney of Ft. Riley, KS

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

"Thank you brave soldier for sacrificing your today for my children's safer tomorrow. You have our utmost respect and gratitude. May God provide your family with comfort during their time of need and sorrow. May you forever rest in Heavenly peace. You will not be forgotten."
a grateful citizen in arizona

"To the Smith family and friends. Our condolences and prays are with you. Brian has touched many lives. An he will be missed by all. He surely is a HERO!"
Leonard T Wahl of valley stream ny

"To the Smith Family . I am very sadden to hear about your loss .May God bless you and give you the strength through this difficult time . He will always be remembered as a HERO .WE feel your pain , I lost my husband Sgt. Henry Ybarra III on Sept.11,2003 in Balad, Iraq . Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers .GOD BLESS THE Family and Friends of 2nd Lt. Brian Smith"
Lilian Ybarra of Austin , TX

"Dear Smith Family, Many thoughts and prayers for all of you during this dark and difficult time. We understand your sacrifice and pain. Aunt of Pfc Bradley Kritzer, killed May 5th , 2004 in Baghdad."
Laurie Miles of Coalport, PA

"To Brian'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 Brian 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 2nd Lt. Brian 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 Brian 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 2nd Lt. Brian 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 Brian, 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