Corporal Ross A. Smith, aged 21, of Wyoming, was killed in action on Thursday, February 9, 2006 while serving his country in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was born on March 4, 1984 and graduated from Wyoming Park High School in 2002. He loved sports and hangin' out with his friends, girlfriend and brothers. He joined the Marines after High School because he wanted to serve his country. This was his Third Tour of Duty in Iraq. He always enjoyed his time on leave so he could spend time with his family and friends and he looked forward to civilian life and going into business. Ross saw many in his Marine Corps Unit injured and killed in Iraq and he had a tattoo made in their honor. Ross was preceded in death by his grandparents, Bill and Ike Hoogeveen, Helen Anderson, Joan Smith, and his uncle, Bill Hoogeveen. He will be greatly missed by his parents, Mark and Susan Smith; brothers, Matt (Brie), and Luke; nephews, Dylan, Kaleb; girlfriend, Samantha Legg; grandfather, Edwin Smith of CA; uncles, Mike Hoogeveen, Brian Hoogeveen, Glenn Smith, Tracy Smith; "special aunt", Mary Chew; aunts, Cathy Smith and Jane (Mike) Fleck; cousins, Cody, Jason and Stanson Smith, Angela, Rachelle and Nicole Hoogeveen and many Marine brothers and civilian friends. Funeral services will be held 11:00 a.m. Saturday at Grand Rapids First Church, 2100 44th Street SW, Wyoming, with Rev. Sam Rijfkogel, officiating. Interment Rest Lawn Memorial Park. Those who wish may make memorial contributions to the Cpl. Ross A. Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund at Wyoming Park High School. Condolences may be sent online at www.mkdfuneralhome.com
Marine Cpl. Ross A. Smith
21, of Wyoming, Michigan.
Smith died from an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations against enemy forces near Fallujah, Iraq. During OIF his unit is attached to 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California. Died on February 9, 2006.
Marine Cpl. Ross A. Smith
Died February 9, 2006 serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom
21, of Wyoming, Mich.; assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; attached to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward); killed Feb. 9 by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations near Fallujah, Iraq.
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Wyo. Marine killed by IED on third Iraq tour
WYOMING, Mich. — The Defense Department on Monday confirmed the death of a Marine from western Michigan who was killed in Iraq.
Cpl. Ross A. Smith, 21, of Wyoming, died Thursday from an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations against enemy forces near Fallujah, the department said.
Smith was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Another member of the unit, Pfc. Javier Chavez Jr., 19, of Cutler, Calif., also was killed.
Smith’s death was first reported last week by his parents, who said they were notified of his death at their home near Grand Rapids on Thursday.
Smith was a June 2002 graduate of Wyoming Park High School who enlisted in the Marines before his senior year. He was on his third tour in Iraq and was months away from finishing his four-year obligation to the armed forces when he was killed, his family said.
— Associated Press
As Mark Smith and his wife,Sue,accepted their youngest son's Purple Heart from the U.S. Marine Corps,the Wyoming man closed his eyes,turning back his welling tears.
Cpl. Ross Smith,the family's "little GI Joe," was gone,the third Wyoming man in three years to die in the Iraq war. An explosion Feb.9 near Fallujah killed the 21-year old Smith about 90 days before he completed his tour of duty and four-year commitment to the military. "In three months,me,you and Luke were going to start our lives over again."said Matt Smith,the Marine's oldest brother."God made other plans for you.
"You made us so proud."
Smith's family and friends bid their hero farewell Saturday during memorial and burial services.But the lasting impact the 2002 Wyoming Park High School graduate had on others will not soon disappear
"Ross was one of those guys in your life that you're privileged to know," friend and schoolmate Ryan Vasquez said,moments after reaching out his right hand to touch Smith's casket before it was lowered into the ground at Rest Lawn Memorial Park.
"I told his dad that no one could think anything negative or bad about Ross.He was as good as it gets,"Vasquez said.
Smith enlisted on the cusp of his senior year in high school.A short time later the Sept.11,2001,terrorist strikes had other pleading with him to reconsider. Those overtures he rejected,saying his country needed him more than ever.
He was among the first wave of troops from West Michigan to land and fight in Iraq in February 2003. It was his duty,Smith told his family.
"Don't morn my death,I fought proudly,"Smith wrote his parents and brothers and girlfriend,Samantha Legg,in a "death letter"the service requires Marines to write before going into battle.
"I will be looking down over you all....I don't plan on dying,but if I do,you know that I love you."
The letter,read during Saturday's memorial service by the Rev.Sam Rijfkogel,compared Sue Smith's kindness to Mother Teresa's and called his father"the best Dad a boy could ever have."
While the sentimental side of Smith shines through those he touched and the words he wrote,the former athlete also was the life of th party, a jokester and a risk-taker.
Once,as an unlicensed ninth-grader,he and friend Justin Carpenter took Luke Smith's Ford Escort to visit some girls they were fond of,Carpenter said.
Later,when Luke totaled his younger brother's car,Ross Smith's response was:"Well,I guess you'll be driving me around for some time now."
Rijfkogel last week worked Ross Smith into his first sermon as senior paster at Grand Rapids First church without knowing him,but having heard about his death. Smith's sacrifice fit perfectly into Rijfkogel's message that people should use their lives to make a difference for other's.
"The tragedy in life is not dying,"Rijfkogel said."It's never really living to make a difference in life."
"There's no question in my mind that Ross Andrew Smith lived his life.Ross had a mission and it was freedom.Ross gave his life for freedom's cause."
Smith was the 79th soldier with Michigan ties to die in Iraq war.Wyoming residents Nicholas Blodgett,an Army private first class,died July 21,2004,when his patrol vehical hit an explosive.Burri,an Army specialist,died June 7,2005,when a bomb exploded near his vehicle.