By Devese Ursery
On Friday, June 17, Scott Air Force Base held a dedication ceremony and plaque unveiling for local hero, Senior Airman Bradley R. Smith, a Troy,Illinois native who was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan in 2010.
The ceremony dedicated the Air Force Master Sergeant Bud L. Andrews Airman Leadership School’s auditorium in honor of Airman Smith and named it the Senior Airman Bradley R. Smith Auditorium. The bronze plaque that once stood in remembrance of Smith in Afghanistan will be hung above the doors of the auditorium.
“Airman Smith made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting his fellow comrades and the United States of America. His exemplary life defines the Air Force core values of integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do,” said Master Sergeant Kerry Akins chief master sergeant of the Air Force Bud L. Andrews Airman Leadership School. “Everyday airmen will walk in the auditorium doors and see the face of a hero to many. His legacy will live on as a testimony, a testimony to the level of heroism one can expect from the airmen that will walk these halls of Chief Master Sergeant Bud L. Andrews Airman Leadership School,” continued Master Sgt. Akins.
Smith was a high-speed soldier that excelled in all of his military training, which is well documented with all of the military accolades and awards that he has earned throughout his military career, like the Purple Heart and the Air Force Commendation Medal, to name a couple.
Senior Airman Smith made the ultimate sacrifice by putting his life on the line for his fellow comrades on the battlefield and for this country, as Master Sgt. Akins spoke of in her speech, but Commander of the 375th AIr Mobility Wing, Colonel Chris Robinson alluded to Senior Airman Smith’s courage and bravery, when he posed the question, “What drives someone to do what he did?” The answer, valor.
“Valor like he’s is rare, exceedingly rare. We as an Air Force value valor above almost every other trait, but unfortunately that’s not something that we can teach you in any professional military education, like airman leadership school,” said Col. Robinson. “That’s something innate … It’s what we hoped we would do if we were called on.”
Col. Robinson ended his speech by telling all of the airmen in attendance looking for someone to emulate. If you want to know what a hero looks like don’t go watch a Marvel movie, look at the life of Senior Airman Smith.
Troy has hosted a 5K run/walk event in Smith’s honor for the last 13 years, but unfortunately this will be the last Bradley R. Smith Memorial Scholarship 5K run, according to Gary and Paula Smith in a statement from the Bradley R. Smith Scholarship Fund website.
Gary and Paula cite wanting to spend more quality time with family and friends would be more beneficial to them in this stage of their life.
According to the statement, the Bradley R. Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund has provided over $350,000.00 in scholarships to local students located in the Troy/Maryville/St. Jacob/Marine areas in the last 12 years; and to reach the end goal of $400,000 in total scholarships would be a successful end to the final year of the event.
The committee is not completely eliminating the scholarship program. Their hope is that through continuing private fundraising events and through business and individual donations we can continue to fund and support our graduating seniors for years to come.
The Bradley R. Smith Memorial Scholarship 5K Run/Walk 2022 Event will be held on September 10, at 8 a.m. in Tri-Township Park at 409 Collinsville Road. Officials advise that you use the Riggins Street Entrance. Race day registration opens at 7 a.m. and the gun starting the race will sound off promptly at 8 a.m. near Pavilion 10.
Participants can participate virtually if desired, and for an additional $8 your race packet and shirt will be shipped directly to the address you provided. To participate please select virtual packet after selecting your shirt size during the online registration process. Overseas registrants please contact race coordinator Sheila Dour directly at email@example.com.
Checks can be made out to the Bradley R. Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund and donations can be sent to the Bradley R. Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund at P.O. Box 21, Troy, Illinois