Screaming Eagles Through Time
Capt. Benedict J. Smith

Army Capt. Benedict J. Smith, 29, of Monroe City, Mo.; assigned to 101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed in action when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter went down on Nov. 7 in Tikrit, Iraq.

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Capt. Benedict J. Smith Memorial Book

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Monroe County Soldier Killed in Black Hawk Helicopter Crash
 
by Alex Fees

You may have heard that the Missouri soldier who died when a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq last week was named Captain Joseph Smith.

In Monroe City, west of Hannibal, people will tell you otherwise. They have, indeed, suffered a loss. But here, he was known as Ben.

Captain Benedict Joseph Smith was one of six U.S. Army soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division who died when a Black Hawk helicopter was apparently brought down by shoulder fired missile on the east side of the Tigris River, near Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's home town.

Half a world away, Sister Sue Walker remembers Ben as a second-grader.
 
She taught him at Holy Rosary Catholic School, in Monroe City, where she now serves as principal. There, she says Ben played the role of the Ringmaster in a fifth and sixth-grade production of "P.T. Barnum."

"He just stood so straight and tall. He was a real leader, even then."

Smith's eighth grade class photo hangs with other alumni photos right outside the classroom where he attended second grade. In the photograph, he's standing in the back row, wearing a blue suit. He appears to be one of the tallest students in his class.

Smith would go on to graduate from Monroe City High School in 1993, and enlist in the Army. Later, he was accepted at U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Sister Sue remembers more recent history, too.

"Recently, I attended his wedding, which was a year ago in September. He was just so happy to be married, and so happy to be in love. He just had everything going for him, ready to be a part of the world. He really enjoyed being in the Army, being in the service."

Smith's wife, Maggie, also serves in the 101st, as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot. Smith was based at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.

He is the second oldest of six children.

Smith's wife is on the way from Iraq to their home in Tennessee. Funeral services for Smith are pending. He will be buried near his parent's home, in the town of Indian Creek, MO.

Outside his parents' country home, a crisp, colorful American flag blows in the wind, right next to a faded yellow ribbon, which is tied near the base of the flagpole.

Sadly, it is a faded yellow ribbon for a soldier who will not be coming home.

101st remembers fallen Black Hawk crew

By PFC. THOMAS DAY U.S. Army 40th Public Affairs Detachment

QAYARRAH, Iraq The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) used Veterans Day to remember the four fallen "Screaming Eagles" of the Nov. 7 helicopter crash at a ceremony in Qayarrah.

Capt. Benedict J. Smith, Chief Warrant Officer Kyran E. Kennedy, Staff Sgt. Paul M. Neff, and Staff Sgt. Scott C. Rose, all members of the 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, were killed in a crash after an attack in Tikrit Friday. Their fellow aviators honored their sacrifices at the 101st Airborne's "Q-West" Airfield, under the shadows of two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters the type of aircraft in which the crew took their final flight into hostile fire.

The crew of Black Hawk 26431, "The Goat," were remembered on Veteran's Day as four unique individuals but with a common love of their families and trust in their fellow soldiers.

"In the deadly chaos of battle, soldiers hold trust and when they fight, they fight for each other because of the trust that resides in one another," said Lt. Col. Laura Richardson, 5-101st Aviation commander. "The crew of aircraft 26431 had that trust."

Capt. Ben Smith

The son of two Missouri pig farmers, Smith was remembered for his adoration of his wife, his affinity for bacon and his inability to keep his desk organized.

"The funny thing was, you could ask him for a specific memo or paper and he would only have to move two or three sheets to come up with it," said Capt. Patrick Patrino, who delivered Smith's eulogy.

Patrino recalled an experience in breakfast chow hall line where his friend's family roots shined. After Patrino refused bacon from a chow hall server, Smith "proceeded to load his plate up with bacon and told the server, I'll have the bacon that he didn't get'."

Smith recently married Capt. Maggie J. (Bradley) Smith before both deployed to Kuwait before the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, she is with 9th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment.

CW3 Kyran Kennedy

Like another Democrat named Kennedy from Massachusetts, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Kyran Kennedy knew the value of doing what you can do for your country, recalled his friend Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jimmy McElhaney.

Kennedy, a native Bostonian and resident of Hopkinsville, Ky., loved a political debate among friends, which the Republican McElhaney was happy to give him over a cup of morning coffee.

Kennedy was the crew's safety officer, a responsibility he never took lightly. "He always came up with a way to do it safely," said McElhaney during the ceremony. "He was never there to say, no, we can't do it.' He just came up with other, safer ways to do it."

Kennedy was in his 16th year in the Army when his helicopter went down Friday. He is survived by his wife Kathy and children Christopher, 11, Kaitlyn, 9, and Kevin, 3.

Staff Sgt. Paul Neff

"He left us doing what he loved to do: fly," said Sgt. First Class Jerardo Gamino. "If he were standing here today, he would tell his soldiers, get in that aircraft, fly, do your job."

Neff was an honest non-commissioned officer, remembered his friend. He loved the Army, having grown up in Columbia, South Carolina, just miles from the Army's Fort Andrew Jackson. "He performed his job in an efficient, professional manor," said Gamino.

Neff asked his girlfriend Sabrina Campbell to marry him before the 101st Airborne Division deployed to Kuwait. She said yes. Neff is survived by Sabrina and his seven-year-old son Christopher.

Staff Sgt. Scott Rose

Like his crew-mate Kennedy, Staff Sgt. Scott Rose was born in Boston. He is the son of a retired colonel and father of five-month old Megan, his first child with wife Michele. He had never meet Megan.

Sgt. Bradley Green remembered the day his friend celebrated the Megan's birth this past summer. "He came to me and asked me if I was as nervous as he was when my daughter was born. Of course I said yes, and we talked for hours about being a dad and how wonderful it will be when we go home."

Just before Rose flew his last mission, he told Green that he would soon be leaving the unit to teach Advanced Individual Training in Fort Eustis, Va. Green told his friend that he would miss him. Rose replied facetiously, "you're not going to get all weepy eyed on me?"

"Well Scott, you got me all weepy eyed now."