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Marine¹s death touches community

| December 30, 2004 11:00 PM

Memorial services for Raleigh Smith, a Marine killed in action Dec. 23 in Iraq, will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at the Troy High School gym.

Burial with military honors will follow at Milnor Lake Cemetery.

Smith was killed along with two other Marines during a clash between U.S. forces and Iraqi insurgents in the embattled city of Fallujah.

A 2002 graduate of Troy High School, Smith talked to sixth-grade students at Morrison Elementary while home on leave last May. According to teacher Terry Herman, he spoke bluntly and seriously about serving in the Marines.

Smith joined the Marines with his high school buddy, Jake Boswell. High school guidance counselor Kelly Palmer called Smith¹s friendship with Boswell ³an inspirational thing.²

³As a fun-loving, all-American kid, he was an example for all of us,² Palmer said.

Smith followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Ramsey, who had joined the Marines the previous year.

³I knew both of them when they were kids,² said Troy Mayor John Brown. ³Most everyone did, so it¹s pretty tough for this community.²

Ramsey Smith had already served a tour of duty in Iraq and was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina when his brother was killed, Palmer said. He will be returning to Troy for the funeral, but Boswell was unable to obtain leave from Iraq to attend.

Speaking to the sixth-graders last spring, Smith emphasized that there is nothing glamorous about war, Herman recalled. When asked by a female student if he thought girls should fight in Iraq, he took a long time before speaking.

³I have to say no to that question,² he answered. ³It is not because I don¹t think a female could do the job as well as a man. No one should have to see what I have seen. I would not want anyone to have to go through the experience I have gone through.²

He described the invasion of Iraq as a tense time and said the worst part was not knowing where his buddies, and especially his brother, were and what was happening to them.

Smith talked of the Iraqi people and how happy they were to see the Marines.

³The Iraqi people loved us and welcomed us with open arms,² he said. ³The Marines were the invading branch of the armed forces. When the Marines left Iraq, the Army took over for the Marines. The Iraqi people preferred the Marines to the Army.²

He said he knew he would have to go back for another tour of duty and while he was not looking forward to it, he knew it was his duty. He said he planned to attend college on the GI Bill and become a history teacher after fulfilling his obligation to the Marines.

According to Troy city clerk Sandra Johnson, Governor-elect Brian Schweitzer is making plans to attend Tuesday¹s services depending on the weather.

Troy schools will be dismissed at 2:05 p.m. to allow students to attend the services.