CONROE, TX, US
CPL, TROOP E, 2D SQUADRON, 7TH CAVALRY, 4 BCT, FORT BLISS, TX
10/31/2007, MOSUL, IRAQ
Brandon W. Smitherman’s life was marked by his compassionate nature and endearing smile.
Now, the 21-year-old will be remembered for making the ultimate sacrifice, friends said before the fallen soldier was laid to rest at Garden Park Cemetery Friday. Smitherman, of Conroe, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart for his bravery on the battlefield.
Smitherman, who was often referred to as “Smitty” by his fellow soldiers, earned the nickname “Little Tim” because he drove a Bradley fighting vehicle for Captain Timothy McGovern, the unit’s commander who became Smitherman’s mentor, Army Brigadier General Francis C. Mahon said at the funeral, held at The Ark Family Church. Brandon was picked to be Captain McGovern’s driver because of his outstanding performance as a soldier.
McGovern, 28, of Indiana, died in the same explosion that killed Smitherman Oct. 31 in Mosul, Iraq. Both were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Bliss.
Saying Americans are often appreciated for their creativity and ingenuity, the Rev. Alan Clayton, who co-officiated the service, believes the country should be revered for “the courage and sacrifice of men like Brandon Smitherman.”
Friends and former teachers told the story of Smitherman’s life, describing a compassionate young man whose affable smile touched everyone he met.
“That smile could change a gloomy day to bright and sunny,” Smitherman’s senior English teacher Johnny Johnson said.
Through a voice broken with emotion, longtime friend Brody Goodson described meeting a lanky child in 1993 with a boyhood penchant for mischief. As he matured, Goodson said, his friend’s strong character touched many lives, remembering most vividly that Smitherman was there for him when Goodson’s mother died last year.
“He was the most respectful person,” Goodson said. “I don’t know anyone who disliked Brandon.”
Smitherman enjoyed sports, excelling in football and basketball. He played as a defensive end for the Montgomery High School Bears, and his coaches described him as “coachable,” a compliment of the highest kind in the sports realm, said Johnson.
Based on Smitherman’s own words, jotted down on his Myspace.com page, he believed, “When someone is in your life for a reason, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficult time, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.”
Smitherman was willing to assist everyone he met, friends said – to comfort an emotional school bus driver after she hit a dog, to help arrange the engagement of a fellow soldier and to protect the freedoms of a nation.
Perhaps the words scrawled on homemade signs held by the hundreds of strangers lining Conroe streets thanking Smitherman for his sacrifice were most telling about the message he left behind.
“Home of the free because of the brave.”