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The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 47, November 21, 2010, Article 21

FALLEN MARINE DAVID SMITH HONORED WITH MEDAL IN HIS NAME

An E-Sylum reader writes:

Veterans Day Biden This story about a fallen Marine mentions, toward the end, the establishment of a scholarship and medal program by East Carolina University in the name of the Marine, who died in Afghanistan in January. Of course the article calls it a "coin" but we know it to be a medal. Interesting...

Marine Sgt. David Smith's parents and stepparents planned to spend Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery, sitting at the grave of their son, who was killed in Afghanistan in January.

What they didn't plan on was running into Vice President Joe Biden and having an extensive, emotional conversation with the man who knows all too well about losing a child.

The four took a picture with the vice president, with David's gravestone front and center in the photo. Smith also offered Biden one of the red bracelets the family designed as a fundraiser for a memorial scholarship. In yellow writing, the bracelet says "Sgt. David James Smith" and has sergeant stripes on either side of the name.

"A lot of people may have just put it in their pocket," Smith said. "I gave it to him, and it immediately went on his wrist."

Biden, in return, left a vice presidential coin on David's grave, which McWilliams took home with her to add to a growing collection.

The honor of having the vice president pay tribute to their son came on the heels of another big honor for David Smith's family.

East Carolina University invited the family onto the football field for the coin toss in last Saturday's game against Navy. McWilliams, her two other children, Kristen Forse and Daniel Brown, and David's girlfriend, Kimberly Mott, were welcomed on with a standing ovation from the crowd, while David's picture was shown on the screen.

They also attended ECU's military appreciation banquet the night before, where David was honored. And to top off the weekend, the university is setting up a scholarship fund for the David J. Smith Leadership Award, which the university said "is going to be considered the highest honor a student can receive," McWilliams said.

A former professor of Smith's is working on raising $25,000 to fund the award for years to come. One recipient a year will receive $500 and a coin with the award name on one side and three stars on the back that stand for leadership, integrity and service. McWilliams was presented the very first coin printed.

McWilliams said the coin now sits in David's old bedroom with coins from former President George W. Bush, Biden, Living Legacy for Smith being an organ donor, various Marine officers and others.

"But the coin that meant the most to me is the David J. Smith Leadership Award from ECU because it was specific to David," McWilliams said. "It let me know how much he was loved and how much he did."

I've included above the section discussing the medal, but the complete article is worth a read. It tells of the family's encounter with Vice President Joe Biden at Arlington National Cemetery, a very genuine and personal meeting with a fellow military parent who's lost a son. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Biden honors Frederick Marine, family at Arlington (www.wtop.com/?nid=25&sid=2117096)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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