Arlington Marine Laid to Rest - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Arlington Marine Laid to Rest



    Friends and family gathered Friday to pay tribute to a North Texas Marine who died last week -- apparently the first case of American troops killed by a missile fired from a U.S. drone.

    The memorial service for 26-year-old Staff Sgt. Jeremy D. Smith took place at Grace Community Church in Smith's hometown of Arlington.

    His wife, Rachel, said her husband was her best friend.

    "Jeremy brought so much love into my life, my heart and everything that is me," she said. "I never could fathom the magnitude of love two people could share with each other until I met Jeremy."

    Fallen Arlington Marine Remembered

    [DFW] Fallen Arlington Marine Remembered
    Staff Sgt. Jeremy D. Smith, of Arlington, was laid to rest at DFW National Cemetery.
    (Published Friday, April 15, 2011)

    Tyler Shulte, his younger brother, said Smith taught him how to ride dirt bikes and showed him how to be a man.

    "He was the best man I ever had the privilege of knowing and never been more proud of anything than to have been his little brother," he said.

    "[I] love you Jeremy, and I'll never forget how good you were to me," he said.

    Smith's father, Jerry, read a passage from the Bible.

    "Greater love has no one than this, that they lay down his life for his friends," he said. "Jeremy has done this and would have it no other way."

    He said his son died for his country. His son would have rather died fighting for what he believed in than to not have followed his passion to serve in the Marines, he said.

    Fellow Marines also flew in for the service from across the country. One Marine read stories about the impact Jeremy Smith had on their lives.

    Smith was laid to rest at DFW National Cemetery.

    Smith's death under investigation

    Two senior U.S. defense officials have said the military is investigating how Smith and a Navy medic could have been mistaken for insurgents in southern Afghanistan last week.

    The Marines under fire were watching streaming video of the battlefield in the Helmand province, being fed to them by an armed Predator overhead. They saw a number of "hot spots," or infrared images, moving in their direction. Apparently believing that those "hot spots" were the enemy, they called in a Hellfire missile strike from the Predator.

    But Smith's father said earlier this week that he doesn't want to place blame for what happened.

    "There's some kid working a joystick that pulled that trigger, and he's going to have to live with that the rest of his life," Jerry Smith said. "I, for one, if I had him standing here, I'd hug him. I'd tell him, 'Man, that stuff happens.' And I'm proud of him, because I promise you, he didn't go over there to kill my son. He went over there to save my son. And if he made a mistake, he made a mistake."

    Smith's father said he's curious to learn more about the circumstances but said they won't change the tragic result.

    "As far as I'm concerned, Jeremy died serving his country, and he was doing exactly what he wanted to do," Jerry Smith said. "He wouldn't have had it any other way."

    Smith served three tours of duty in Iraq before returning to North Texas to attend college. He continued in the reserves and arrived in Afghanistan about a month ago.

    NBC DFW's Scott Gordon, Frank Heinz and Amanda Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.