New plaque honoring Marion Co. Iraq war veteran placed at courthouse


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Jun 10, 2023

New plaque honoring Marion Co. Iraq war veteran placed at courthouse

After falling into disrepair, a plaque honoring the lone Marion County service

After falling into disrepair, a plaque honoring the lone Marion County service member to lose his life during Operation Iraqi Freedom has been replaced with a proper memorial.

United States Army Staff Sgt. Shannon M. Smith of Marion died from wounds he suffered on Sept. 8, 2009, when a vehicle he was riding in was bombed by enemy forces near Baji, Iraq. Following his death, a plaque honoring Smith was placed on the western wall of the Marion County Courthouse, which is also home to other plaques honoring local veterans who have given their lives in service to the United States. The original plaque was made of wood and fell victim to the elements over time.

The Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1117 raised $2,000 to replace the wooden plaque with a metal plaque, which was placed on the courthouse wall last week by employees of Midstate Contractors LLC. The company is currently performing repairs to the interior of the courthouse which was damaged during a severe winter storm in December 2022.

Kristi Smith, sister of Sgt. Smith, attended the ceremony held outside the courthouse on Memorial Day to represent her family. She said she was moved by the gesture to honor her brother.

"We just know that he touched so many people and he will never be forgotten," Smith said. "No matter how much time passes - it never gets easier - but at least we know that everyone will still remember him, and we're thankful for that."

Sgt. Smith's parents, James R. and Debbie R. Smith Jr., watched the ceremony via video conference from their home in South Carolina. Sgt. Smith was also survived by his wife, Cassie; son, Steven; brother, Cory; and other family members.

"This has been a four and a half year mission of mine," said Marion County Common Pleas Court Judge Warren T. Edwards, who spearheaded the effort to replace the weathered plaque to honor Sgt. Smith. "The plaque on this wall in was in bad repair and was a disgrace to this community and to the memory of Sgt. Smith.

"I didn't know what to do with the previous plaque and I didn't want to destroy a memorial to a fallen soldier, so I decided to give it to Sgt. Smith's sister, Kristi Smith, and her family can decide what will become of it. Even though it is in poor shape, it still bears your brother's name and I wanted to make sure that your family had it."

In addition to members of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1117, a color guard composed of members of the American Legion attended the ceremony and honored Sgt. Smith with a gun salute. Members of the Marion County Veterans Service Commission also attended the event.

In his obituary on the Snyder Funeral Homes website, Smith was eulogized as "a humble man, who gave the ultimate sacrifice." He was a member of the 545th Military Police Company, Arctic Military Police Battalion, stationed at Fort Richardson, Alaska, where he resided with his family at the time.

Smith was the recipient of numerous citations and decorations including The Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Action Badge, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Iraq and Kosovo Campaign Medals.

According to his obituary, Smith enlisted in the Army in 1997 and became a team leader of the 178th Military Police Company. He conducted several missions in support of the Secret Service Tac Team and Sniper Team providing protection for the President of the United States. He performed as a team leader and counter sniper in Iraq for the 89th Military Police Company, completing over 500 protection missions in a combat environment.

Additionally, according to his obituary, Smith served as a Special Reactions Team, Protective Services, and High Risk Personnel course instructor training hundreds of officers and other personnel annually. He was selected as the Battle Field Hero for the 545th Military Police Company at the Nation Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.

Smith was an alumnus of Marion Harding High School, graduating in 1997. While at Harding, he excelled in wrestling and was a national qualifier for the Greco Roman freestyle wrestling team.

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