CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan --
Packed wall-to-wall with Marines, the ball room at The Palms on Camp Hansen was a solemn place of reflection March 26.
The Marines and Sailors of 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, held a memorial service for Master Sgt. Damian Smith. Smith was the utilities chief for Engineer Support Company. He passed away March 22 at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif.
“He was someone who I mentored daily,” said 1st. Sgt. Walda L. Collins, company first sergeant, Headquarters and Service Company, 9th ESB.
Collins and Smith had such a unique and strong bond that after he passed away she wrote a poem conveying his character and the kind of person he was.
His strength of character was something that stood out among other characteristics, said Lt. Col. Ted A. Adams, commanding officer of 9th ESB.
“Each time we would visit him (at the hospital), he would make jokes about his three previous tours on Okinawa, how each time he had gotten some sickness or another, but he just shook it off as no big thing,” Adams said.
In addition to his strong character, Smith valued mentorship and educating his Marines, said those who knew him.
Smith was always training and preparing his Marines for combat, said 1st. Sgt. Scott L. Bowden, acting battalion sergeant major of 9th ESB.
He did this by constantly mentoring and educating Marines on their jobs, Bowden said.
After completing recruit training and his military occupational specialty school, Smith reported to 9th ESB, 3rd Forward Service Support Group, III MEF, as his first duty station. In 1997 he returned to Okinawa and served with Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler. In 2009, Smith returned to his original duty station with 9th ESB where he served the final months of his 20 years of service.
The Nassau, N.Y., native is survived by his mother Anna Smith, his father Clarence Smith, his sister Valerie Fitts and his son Donte M. Smith.
The 39-year-old’s personal awards include two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals and six Good Conduct Medals.
My Fallen Friend!
It’s never easy when you lose a fellow Marine;
No matter the color, whether light or dark green.
Whether in combat or in garrison;
Mourning a loss is never fun.
Master Sgt. Smith is looking down on us;
I can hear him now: “The fight must continue,
So stop all the fuss.”
Commonly observed as a gentle giant;
He was not easily dismayed, nor hardly defiant.
I heed a lot of respect for my fallen comrade;
Always genuinely concerned, hardly ever got mad
No matter how many times I chewed him out.
Caring, kind, considerate are just a few choice words;
To describe him any other way would be absolutely absurd.
A leader, always looking out for the team;
We are saddened this day from the loss of our Marine.
Today, we mourn the loss and may even shed a tear;
But surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, our tears will turn to cheer.
We look forward to brighter days and celebrate,
That Master Sgt. Smith is in a better place.
No more suffering, no more pain, he no longer has to wait;
Master Sgt Smith has been called to man the Pearly Gates.
Marines and sailors of 9th ESB, as we move forward to Afghanistan;
He’ll provide our over watch, as our guardian angel, he will stand.
My peer, my mentee, my good friend;
Our friendship on earth has come to an end.
Master Sgt. Smith! Master Sgt Damian Smith!
Rest in peace my brother, your presence we will miss!
-1st Sgt Walda L. Collins