Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tim Smith's family speaks

This is on the RGJ's website .. it made me cry .. it is such a waste. Of course, all I can think of is my nephew Chris who is 25, married and has a 1-year-old and got back earlier this year from Iraq.
Family statement for Sgt. Timothy Smith
Timmy was my first born. There is a special bond with your first born. I would get up every hour just to see if he was breathing. He was so tiny. He only weighed 5 lbs., 7 oz.

So many memories go through my head like the time we had the whole neighborhood looking for him when he was only 2. He walks out and says, "Mom," rubbing his eyes. He had been asleep under the pool table the whole time. I picked him up and hugged him and said, "Don't you ever scare me like that again."

Timmy and I were so much alike and butted heads so many times. But we both knew how much we loved each other. Both stubborn. Yesterday, sitting on the deck with all his friends, brought tears to my eyes. "Timmy this and Timmy that....." He gave so much love and laughter to everybody's heart.

My son finally met the two loves of his life, Shayna and Riley. I know they were meant to be. Shayna is just as stubborn as he but there is so much love between the three of them. It warms my heart that he finally found his true love. He was to come home in June for two weeks for Riley's second birthday and they were planning to try to get pregnant.

The last time I saw my son was Thanksgiving and, as usual, I made a dinner big enough for the entire Army. The day I left him, he said, "Mom, I'm going to be fine. I'll be in the safest vehicle the Army has ever made, the Husky." And I told him, as usual, "Be careful and watch your butt," as I always told him in my emails.

We said our goodbyes...."I love you, Mom"....and I hugged him. "I love you, Mom, and I'll be alright." Little did I know that was going to be my last hug and my last kiss.

I did talk to him Monday before he was killed. I asked, "What are you doing?" He said, "Nothing, Mom, I'm just going to work." I asked "What do you need?" He said, "Nothing. Well, maybe some chew," and I said, "As long as you quit chewing when you get out." He said, "I know, Mom, I will." We talked for awhile and then I let him talk to one of his good friends, Steph, that works for me. She said, "You need to get home so we can drink some brewskis." He said, "I'm trying."

Timmy and Brandon Lord, his best buddy in Iraq, made a pact if one of them died the survivor would bring the other one home. The Army has granted that. The Patriot Guard Riders motorcyclists will escort Tim when he gets home, along with the police and fire departments.

All I know is I am very proud of my Timmy, my soldier. He is my hero and I miss him so much. It will always be Timmy, Tommy and Jackie."


Growing up with Timmy was amazing. He taught me so much about life. There were ups and downs, of course, but Timmy could overcome anything that got in his way.

He was a genuine hero long before he served his country and always will be. He loved everybody and everybody loved him.

I am so proud of Timmy and so proud to be his brother. He will be missed by all but never forgotten. I love him more than anything in the world. What I would give for one more hour. I love you, brother.

My brother Timmy made me who I am today. He will always live inside me. He was courageous and never gave up on himself or others. Before he left for Iraq, he told me he's doing what he needs to do and he wanted me to be proud of him, saying, "I love you, sister."

Even though I lost my best friend, I can only imagine how many lives he saved and how many heartaches he saved for other families.

I know he's looking down on us wanting us to smile. He always had that effect on other people. He touched many lives. He has always been my hero. He has never let me down.

Timmy will always be with the ones he loved. I love my brother. Always.


Timothy Michael Smith was born September 20, 1982. It seems like yesterday but it was 25 years ago. None of his family could ever have dreamed that he would only be with us for 25 years. But, as U.S. Army Sergeant Tim Smith, serving so proudly with the 10th Mountain Division out of Ft. Polk, Louisiana, he was killed in Iraq on Monday, April 7, where he was sent on Thanksgiving weekend of 2007 after having completed a tour of Afghanistan months before. Joining more than 4,000 comrades who went before him, the worst fears of his family were confirmed with that dreaded phone call. But a lot more than his birth in 1982 and his untimely tragic death in 2008 made up the short life of Timmy Smith. And we all need to remember that.

Tim was stubborn, always stubborn. When he was one year old, he wandered around his family home in South Lake Tahoe in a child's walker, endlessly trilling like a little bird. When his grandparents came to spend his first birthday with him, bringing with them a child's rocker hand made by his great-great-great-grandfather for his great-grandfather, his grandmother joined him in his trilling. He looked up at her, surprised, with a devilish little smile that was his for his lifetime, and kept right on trilling. They answered each other with their trilling for all of her stay there, to the distraction of all, and he stubbornly demanded an answer every time. (He couldn't talk yet; it was their communication.) On that same birthday, he put his face in his cake and didn't raise it until he was completely covered with the thick frosting, sounding his irresistible giggle that also became a lifetime trademark. When the family took a cruise around Lake Tahoe he cried until Nana took him in her arms, walking the deck with him, both of them quietly "trilling." He was stubborn in all things and that stubbornness served him well through childhood challenges and his growing up years, determined to overcome all obstacles, and carried him through to his success in the Army.

Tim loved Lake Tahoe. He loved the mountains and the snow. He was a competitive and amazing acrobatic freestyle snowboarder who might have become an Olympic Team contender. He struggled with learning disabilities through elementary school and attended South Lake Tahoe High School. Now flags are lowered in California in his honor and the medals he won are known to all. "Tito," as his brother Tom and friends called him, would be laughing with amazement and maybe a little smug! But oh, so proud and happy.

Tim was a tease who loved to tease those he loved the most but always with a laugh. He loved to climb trees and when you couldn't find him all you had to do was look up. He fell into rivers, coming up muddied, fell off limbs, bruising knees. Most of all he loved to sit up there and watch you look for him. He loved his Legos almost to obsession, quietly creating with them for hours at a time, his GI Joes and helicopters. He loved to visit his family in Westborough, Massachusetts, for many summers where he had "his room," catching frogs, climbing out windows onto roof tops, going camping, making friends, loving his cousins and his uncle, eating his favorite foods, being a little spoiled and hugged a lot. Once when he was very young, on the way to the airport, he said he hoped the flight would be cancelled because - "aw jeez" - he wasn't ready to go home. A four-wheeler gifted in Westborough thrilled him as he rode it round and round a circle for hours. One hot summer afternoon later, he stood in the blazing sun for hours - stubbornly, refusing to give up - to earn a few dollars for spending money being a "flagger" at his cousin's motocross races in New Hampshire. Sunburned and exhausted, he was un-phased and came back in waving his money earned, with that smile on his face, always that smile.

He could raise particular Hell and he could be gentle and vulnerable. He never missed calling his grandparents to wish them a happy birthday, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Thanksgiving or Merry Christmas. When he married his beloved Shayna last July 4th, his grandfather's birthday, he called after the ceremony and said, "I did it, Nana," with that giggle and such joy in his voice that one could never imagine it could be stilled.

Tim was happy being married and a father to Riley. He looked forward to teaching the boy and all the other children he wanted to have all that he had learned, and guiding them to a good life. But for now he was committed to soldiering and "getting it done," all the while planning for their future.

He was so straight and proud when he marched to the stage at graduation at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri when he'd completed training. He brought happy tears to his family's eyes. He went to Afghanistan and was a good soldier. Last year, he tried to pretend it was "no big deal" when he was made Sergeant. But it was. And he knew it. He had come a long way. We were so proud when he was written up in an online newsletter, with pictures, talking about his humvee and comrades. Impatient at times with military ways, Tim nonetheless made a success of himself, his life and of the service to his country. Nothing came easy to him and he had to fight to get into the Army but he was determined and he fulfilled his lifetime dream. When he called to say he was doing it, never was it dreamt then it would cost him his life on a dusty road far away in Baghdad. We'll never know what his last thoughts were but his work was not done; he was taken too soon and his family is distraught.

He had plans and many more dreams and he loved his wife and baby and his family. They cannot help but feel this should not have happened and to grieve his loss, as they will forever, but which is almost unbearable right now. But Tim leaves us all with so many happy, dear, treasured memories of the skinny little kid with the devil in his eye that he was and the strong, fit, steady man he became. We will try to honor him in all that we do and how we live. When he called to say goodbye in November, he promised he would be careful, stay safe, and come back. When he emailed at Christmas he was more concerned about us than himself. When he was leaving in November, the day after he should have been discharged, he told his frightened father, "I have to go, Dad. If I don't, someone else who's been there a long time and probably missed some Christmases won't be able to come home for their kids." He told his wife, Shayna, "I have to go to Iraq so Riley won't have to." That was the man that Tim became.

He'll be forever young in our minds and hearts and we'll never know now what greatness his stubbornness and smile might have helped him achieve. He was not an angel and as proud as he would be of the accolades coming his way, knowing his family would be comforted learning of the high esteem in which he was held, the things he did they never knew about, he would be embarrassed to be martyred in death. We will honor his memory and sacrifice and miss him forever. Wherever he is, he is telling us to get on with it and be happy for him. I can hear him saying, "Cry a little so I'll know you miss me - but not forever. That's a waste of time." And I can also hear him saying, "Love you too, Nana........."

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