Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
David Cazzie Smith, SSgt., USAF (KIA)August 04, 1983 – June 09, 2010
Air Force Staff Sgt. David C. Smith died June 09, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom.
26, of Eight Mile, Ala.; assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.; died June 9, near FOB Jackson, Afghanistan, in a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crash. Also killed were Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael P. Flores, Air Force 1st Lt. Joel C. Gentz and Air Force Senior Airman Benjamin D. White. Capt. David A. Wisniewski died July 2 at National Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., due to injuries suffered in the crash.
Schwartz mourns airmen killed in medevac crashBy Scott Fontaine (Staff writer)
The Pentagon has named the four rescue airmen who were killed June 9 when insurgents shot down their HH-60G Pave Hawk in southern Afghanistan.
Three airmen also were injured in the Pave Hawk incident, which occurred on the deadliest day for Air Force personnel at war in more than five years.
The four killed are:* 1st Lt. Joel C. Gentz, 25, of Grass Lake, MI* Staff Sgt. David C. Smith, 26, of Eight Mile, AL* Tech. Sgt. Michael P. Flores, 31, of San Antonio, TX* Senior Airman Benjamin D. White, 24, of Erwin, TN
Flores and White were assigned to the 48th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Gentz was assigned to the 58th Rescue Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Smith was assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron at Nellis.
The wounded airmen are members of the 66th Rescue Squadron. They are being treated at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany.
The helicopter crashed as the airmen, assigned to 563rd Rescue Group, were performing a medical-evacuation mission in turbulent Helmand province.
“Our Air Force was deeply saddened by the loss of four of our own,” Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said in a statement. “Faithful to the rescue motto ‘That others may live,’ these airmen were courageously and selflessly flying in support of their joint and coalition teammates. We grieve for our warriors and our thoughts and prayers are with their families, as well as with the airmen still recovering.”
Col. Gary Henderson, the 23rd Wing commander said in a statement: “Our hearts go out to the families of these brave Americans, and we express our deepest condolences to them. All seven airmen involved in this incident embody the rescue motto, ‘These things we do, that others may live,’ and were on a life-saving mission.
“These airmen and their other rescue teammates are highly trained to perform life-saving missions in various situations. Protecting our nation’s sons and daughters is a sacred trust and we take that responsibility seriously.”
The last time four or more airmen died in a single day was May 30, 2005, when a prop plane crashed in Diyala province, Iraq. A fifth passenger, Iraqi Air Force Capt. Ali Abass, also died in that crash.
It was the bloodiest day in Afghanistan for the Air Force since Nov. 23, 2003, when four airmen were killed in a helicopter crash in Parwan province, according to icasualties.org, a website that tracks coalition deaths overseas.
The helicopter was providing support to British troops at the time of the attack, according to The New York Times. The newspaper, quoting a Taliban spokesman, said insurgents shot down the helicopter over the Sangin district bazaar with a rocket-propelled grenade.
“It’s a big deal every time we lose someone,” Brig. Gen. Frderick B. Hodges, one of the top American commanders in southern Afghanistan, told The Washington Post. “But this is more of a jolt. The medevac crews are some of the bravest people in the world. Just by the nature of what they do, they’re always moving into danger.”
Flores, a 32-year-old pararescueman, had earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and deployed eight times during his 12 years in the service. White, a 24-year-old pararescueman, had served in the Air Force since July 2006 and was on his first deployment.
Gentz, 25, a combat rescue officer, studied aerospace engineering at Purdue University and enrolled in ROTC because he wanted to be a pilot and perform combat recue, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Smith, 26, was a flight engineer who had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan during his nine-year career.
Medevac crash victims returned homeBy Scott Fontaine (Staff writer)
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. — The transfer team’s steps were meticulously synchronized. Their white gloves were spotless. The flag wrapped around each case was tight, each with an identical number of stars and stripes showing.
They said little — just a few orders, barely audible over the clanging rotors of the Boeing 747. The Air Force chief of staff held a sharp salute as they walked by. The service secretary held his hand over his heart.
Four of their colleagues were killed two days earlier, when insurgents shot down their HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter during a medical-evacuation mission in southern Afghanistan. And on June 11, the fallen returned to the U.S.; their remains were met here with full honors.
The Air Force transfer team first carried the flag-draped case containing the remains of Lt. Joel C. Gentz, a combat rescue officer who enrolled in ROTC because he wanted to be a pilot and fly rescue missions, from a hydraulic lift to a waiting cargo van.
Next came the body of Tech. Sgt. Michael P. Flores, a pararescueman who had previously been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and had served overseas eight times in 12 years.
And then Staff Sgt. David C. Smith, a flight engineer who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan during his nine-year Air Force career.
And, lastly, Senior Airman Benjamin D. White, a pararescueman on his first deployment.
Their helicopter crashed in Helmand province, leaving three other airmen injured and leading to the Air Force’s deadliest day at war in more than five years. The remains of Lance Cpl. Michael G. Plank, a Marine killed in Helmand province on June 9, also made the trip from Germany.
Fellow pararescuemen escorted the remains from Germany and snapped a salute as the cases were moved from the plane to a hydraulic lift. The lift was lowered, and the transfer teams solemnly walked each case to one of two waiting cargo vans. Family members stood near the tail of the jet and watched.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and Secretary Michael Donley didn’t provide a statement or take questions from the handful of reporters here — standard procedure for the event, known to the Air Force as a dignified transfer. And a port mortuary spokeswoman wasn’t sure the last time such an event drew the service’s top uniformed and civilian officials.
But the Air Force hadn’t lost four or more airmen since May 30, 2005, when a prop plane crashed in Diyala province, Iraq. The incident killed four American airmen and an Iraqi officer.
The Pave Hawk carrying the pararescuemen crashed in the Sangin district of Helmand as it was providing support for British troops. A Taliban spokesman told the New York Times that insurgents shot it down with a rocket-propelled grenade.
Enjoyed dissecting electronic devicesThe Associated Press
Whether you knew him as “Smitty,” “Stuntman,” “Cazzie” or any other nickname, David Smith was the guy who could be counted on as a rescuer.
In grade school, his mother said, he stood up for a buddy who was being teased because he had learning disabilities. As a helicopter flight engineer, he was trying to save soldiers who had been wounded in Afghanistan’s Helmand province when the chopper crashed, killing him.
Smith, 26, of Eight Mile, Ala., was assigned to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. He graduated from Satsuma High School and joined the military a year later.
He was remembered as a computer nerd who loved reading and playing video games.
“Anything electronic, he could take it apart and put it back together,” said his mother, Mildred Hardee.
He had a dry sense of humor and loved stand-up comedy, Hardee said.
Smith also was well-respected by the other airmen he worked with.
“He was intelligent, funny, dependable, honest, humble, tough and, most importantly, he was a constant,” said Master Sgt. Kristopher Angone. “He was a known value. He was a steady force in today’s chaotic environment.”
Smith also is survived by four siblings.
SOLIDER’S BODY RETURNED HOME FOR BURIALSTAFF SERGEANT DAVID C. SMITH
Thursday, 17 Jun 2010Derica Williams
MOBILE, Alabama (WALA) – The body of a local solider returned home Thursday. Staff Sergeant David Smith, from Eight Mile, was killed last week in Afghanistan. Smith, who was stationed at Nellis Air Force base, was part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He was killed just 10 days before he was supposed to return home. It was an emotional day for many.
It was a homecoming that had a somber welcome. Family members of Staff Sgt. David C. Smith gathered at The Mobile Air Center for his arrival. A charter plane landed with the airman’s body inside. As the casket draped with the American flag was lowered, the Honor Guard and Patriot Guard stood in salute.
“We try to bring respect to all our service men and women. It’s sad and we hope that we can help. Words won’t help them get over grieving but we can definitely draw attention to our servicemen, especially the ones that have been killed,” Don Herrin, Ride Captain with the Patriot Guard said.
The 26-year-old was one of four airmen killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
“He goes out and rescues other people in his helicopter. He’s a great hero. He goes out and saves other people,” Herrin added.
“We’re there for a reason, we love our country. We’re all brothers in the military right now. It’s a big loss for the family obviously and for the United States Air Force and America. I’m here with the family just to help them through,” Master Sgt. Jacob Chandler with the U.S. Air Force said.
A man who served two tours in Iraq paid the ultimate price while protecting our country.
Military members did a dignified transfer while loved ones looked on in disbelief. After the casket was gently placed into the hearse, local law enforcement and Patriot Guard riders led the procession to Saraland.
Family and friends visibly shaken are preparing to say their final goodbye.
The family was too distraught to comment.
Military members tell us Smith will receive full honors at his ceremony on Monday.
The wake is Sunday night from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Radney Funeral Home in Saraland. His funeral will be held Monday at 11:00 a.m. at Little Flower Catholic Church on Government Blvd.
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