2014-11-20 / News

Iraq War Veteran Josh Smith Shares Perspectives at Cedarville School Program

By Paul Gingras


At left: Gathering at Les Cheneaux Community Schools for a Veterans Day ceremony Tuesday, November 11, are (from left) World War II veteran and Cedarville resident Roger Hamel of the U.S. Army Air Force, 9th Infantry Vietnam War veteran Bill Lamoreaux of Hessel, Korean War veteran and Cedarville resident Chuck Crawford of the U.S. Coast Guard, World War II veteran and Cedarville resident Charlie Markstrom of the Army, Korean War veteran and Cedarville resident Raymond Markstrom of the Army, and Vietnam War veteran Roy Hart of Hessel. At left: Gathering at Les Cheneaux Community Schools for a Veterans Day ceremony Tuesday, November 11, are (from left) World War II veteran and Cedarville resident Roger Hamel of the U.S. Army Air Force, 9th Infantry Vietnam War veteran Bill Lamoreaux of Hessel, Korean War veteran and Cedarville resident Chuck Crawford of the U.S. Coast Guard, World War II veteran and Cedarville resident Charlie Markstrom of the Army, Korean War veteran and Cedarville resident Raymond Markstrom of the Army, and Vietnam War veteran Roy Hart of Hessel. “The service members we honor on this day came from all walks of life, but they shared several fundamental qualities. They possessed courage, pride, selflessness, dedication to duty, and integrity – all the qualities needed to serve a cause larger than one’s self,” said Josh Smith, Iraq War veteran speaking on Veterans Day Tuesday, November 11, at Les Cheneaux Community Schools in Cedarville.


Students prepare to march into a well attended assembly at Les Cheneaux Community Schools. Pictured (from left) are Ethan Bigelow, Hayley Kohlmann, and Cason Smith. Students prepare to march into a well attended assembly at Les Cheneaux Community Schools. Pictured (from left) are Ethan Bigelow, Hayley Kohlmann, and Cason Smith. Offering his perspective on the role of the armed forces in general, and his personal experience fighting in Africa and Iraq, Mr. Smith described the path that brought him to some of the hottest and most dangerous regions in the world.

He spent 10 years in the United States Marine Corps, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and with the encouragement of his twin brother, Jake. In a truck company attached to 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, he was deployed to Djibouti, Africa, where his unit was assigned to stop the flow of Al Qaeda members fleeing Iraq. Six months later, he was deployed to Fallujah.

Based at the south of the city in a converted train station, 200 marines fought to hold dangerous ground. It was there that someone attempted to kill him for the first time. Tackled to the ground by a fellow soldier, Sgt. Smith realized they were under attack.


Keynote speaker at Cedarville’s Veterans Day assembly, decorated U.S. Marine and veteran of the Iraq War Josh Smith poses with his family. Pictured (from left) are Arkin, Erin, Colton, and Sgt. Smith. Keynote speaker at Cedarville’s Veterans Day assembly, decorated U.S. Marine and veteran of the Iraq War Josh Smith poses with his family. Pictured (from left) are Arkin, Erin, Colton, and Sgt. Smith. Over the course of his time in Iraq, he was hit by two improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Two others damaged the truck he was driving.

“I am lucky and blessed to get through them all without a scratch,” he said.

When he realized fellow soldiers were pinned down in three directions, he blocked one line of fire with a vehicle while trying to suppress another.

Later honored for bravery during an ambush, Sgt. Smith earned the Marine Corps Achievement Medal with a Combat Distinguishing Device.

“But as any veteran can tell you, it’s not about the medals or awards,” he said. “It’s about the men and women standing next to you and knowing they would do anything for you at a moment’s notice.”

Mr. Smith called on the public to remember the soldiers who were not at the Veterans Day service, “the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend this country.”

He also thanked the families of service members who kept their hearts and minds on their loved ones abroad.

“Our gathering is just one small spark in the flame of pride that burns across the nation today, and every day,” he said.

In addition to Mr. Smith’s address, student Maddie Kohlmann spoke about the history of Veterans Day, and Tammy Carr Cruickshank spoke on behalf of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Bill Lamoreaux, a veteran of the 9th Infantry Division in the Vietnam War, called for increased understanding of Veterans Day. Students should know more about it, and families should talk about soldiers’ sacrifices, he told The St. Ignace News, pointing out that 59,000 soldiers did not return from Vietnam.

Pickford Historical Museum held a reception for veterans afterward. Participating was Vietnam veteran Joe Van Luven, who spoke highly of the program. He was also pleased that family members called to wish him a happy Veterans Day. A ground-based machine gunner in the war, Mr. Van Luven encourages others to remember those who never came home.

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