Marine laid to rest in Troy
By Heidi Desch Western News Reporter
As light faded to darkness Tuesday, friends and family encircled the flag-draped casket of Marine Cpl. Raleigh Smith in the woods of Milnor Lake Cemetery.
Those gathered came to pay their respects as the sound of a lone bugler playing taps poured through the crisp winter air and Marines conducted military honors laying their fallen comrade to rest.
Just hours earlier students in jeans, men in suits and servicemen in uniform solemnly climbed the stairs to Troy High School gymnasium to say goodbye to their classmate, their neighbor and their friend.
Smith, just weeks after he turned 21, was killed while fighting in Fallujah, Iraq, on Dec. 23.
He was remembered as someone who ³got things done,² ³had the respect of his teachers² and who ³loved life, his family and friends.²
But maybe most important of all he was remembered as someone who had goals.
³He had so many goals,² said his brother and fellow Marine Ramsey Smith. ³He had his mind set on what he wanted to do.²
He wanted to serve his country.
He wanted to earn his way through college.
He wanted to be a history teacher.
Smith¹s brother wasn¹t the only one who remembered him as someone with goals.
Former teacher to both brothers, Jeff Ferderer also remembered Smith as someone who had goals.
³One goal he had was to make them (his parent¹s) proud. He accomplished that,² he said.
Ferderer spoke of the way Smith was an accomplished athlete, who loved cross county and tennis.
Ferderer, who was also Smith¹s cross country coach, noted how Smith had great determination and work ethic, especially when it came to the sports he loved.
Smith was named most improved player by his fellow cross country teammates while in his junior year, and Ferderer called him the ³silent leader of the team² his senior year.
The teacher recalled how Smith had been a straight-A student until his freshman year and when his performance wasn¹t the best he was able to ³straighten himself out² without making excuses and succeed.
³He was my hero long before he joined the Marines,² he said.
Ferderer also noted how Smith was a jokester, wearing false teeth to school and setting off on adventures with friend Jake Boswell that included running around in capes and tights.
³There was nothing like a Raleigh chuckle and a Raleigh smile,² he said.
He also recalled the pair and other friends making several home movies together that included scenes where they jumped out of slow moving cars and swam in pools of water during winter.
³He certainly wasn¹t camera shy,² he said.
But he was also always there to cheer on his fellow students.
The audience laughed as Ferderer said that at one time he believed Smith¹s ³favorite sport was basketball. Girl¹s basketball.²
³He could stand on his own, but he loved to stand with others,² he said.
As speakers recounted the life of Smith, one thing was clear: he had a special relationship with his brother.
Ferderer compared their special bond to that of two bear cubs.
Ramsey was the bigger one, but Raleigh was the scrappy one.
³The two cubs were as wild and loving to each other as any siblings I¹d ever seen,² he said.
In his senior paper Smith had called his older brother his ³all time hero.²
That might explain why Smith followed his brother¹s passion for history and followed his brother into the Marines.
Their special bond was also apparent in the way Ramsey Smith spoke of his brother.
³He was such a fine human being,² he said. ³It was like he was almost too good for us.²
Ramsey recounted how his brother was more concerned with everyone else safety and his, rather than being scared for himself while in Iraq.
³Why would he be like that?² asked Ramsey.
He told the audience to keep Raleigh in their hearts, but before stepping down from the podium he said one last thing to his brother.
³I¹ll see you when I get there.²