The Herald Bulletin

May 10, 2013

Ten years later

Remembering Anderson Marine Matthew Smith

By Baylee Pulliam
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — When he graduated from the U.S. Marine Corps recruit training, Lance Cpl. Matthew R. Smith sat for a photo against the American flag — eyes forward, shoulders back in his dress blues.

That photo’s now etched in bronze, a placard on Smith’s grave at Anderson Memorial Park captioned with the inscription: “All gave some; Some gave all.”

Friends, family and fellow Marines met there Friday to unveil the portrait, share photos, stories and remember Smith, who’d worked as radio operator for the 4th Force Service Support Group out of Peru, Ind. He died May 10, 2003, in a Humvee crash during a military convoy to Kuwait’s Camp Coyote.

Even 10 years later, “the pain doesn’t ever really numb,” said his mother, Patricia Smith. “You just learn to live with it. You try to keep the memories.”

Her son died on a Saturday, only a few days after he’d written his mother to tell her he was coming home. The next day — Mother’s Day — his platoon commander and casualty assistance officer, Suzanne Handshoe, knocked on Patricia’s door.

“That news changed all of our lives,” said Handshoe, now Mayor of Kendallville. She keeps pictures of Smith and other Marines in her office, a reminder, she said, “Number one, that freedom is not free, and number two, that they will not be forgotten.”

The Marine would have been 31 this month, but his mother remembers him as an impatient teenager, a good boy just discovering the man he wanted to be. He’d enlisted to pay for school at Indiana University, and had talked about one day teaching at a military academy.

While the sting of losing his son is still there, Matt’s father, David Smith, said there’s a sense of closure in knowing there aren’t any ‘what ifs’.

“He was exactly where he was supposed to be,” the father said. “He was doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing. It still hurts, but Matt died doing what was right. That’s how we have to remember him.”

Like Baylee Pulliam on Facebook and on Twitter @BayleeNPulliam, or call 648-4250.