ARLINGTON (KRLD/CBSDFW.COM/AP) – The father of an Arlington Marine reservist says he’s not interested in placing blame as officials explore whether his son died in what could be the first case of American troops killed by a missile fired from a U.S. drone.
The body of Marine Staff Sergeant Jeremy Smith received a hero’s welcome at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Tuesday. Patriot Guard Riders then escorted the flag-draped casket to the funeral home. “I feel for his family,” said Patriot Guard rider “Cookie” Lambert. “I’m just thankful that mine all came back, that’s why we try to do what we can for these that lose their lives.”
The Marine Staff Sergeant Smith, 26, died last week during combat operations in Afghanistan. His father, Jerry Smith, says he doubts the firing from the drone aircraft was a mistake. “And it [the drone missle] can only, to my knowledge and understanding, be brought to bear at the request of the people that it’s gonna be fired for,” Jerry Smith told KRLD NewsRadio 1080.
Smith said he’d like to meet the family of the service member who fired the missile remotely, to offer his support and forgiveness. “Whoever was at that joystick, flying that drone, is someone else’s son, that’s just as dedicated as my son,” he said adamantly. “And I assure you if that drone was flown over there it was flown over there to save my son and his men not to harm them in anyway.”
The North Texas Marine Corps reservist and another serviceman were killed in the incident. Military officials say they are investigating the deaths.
The elder Smith says it may have been his son who directed the suspected “friendly fire”. “We don’t know who called it down, it could have been my son himself because he was the platoon leader.”
Now Jerry Smith says Americans must do a better job of remembering service people like his son. “It really grieves me that they’re over there fighting for their lives and it’s almost like we’ve forgotten about that over here.”
Staff Sergeant Smith had served three tours in Iraq prior to his service in Afghanistan.
The funeral for Staff Sergeant Smith will be held April 15 at Grace Community Church in Arlington. He will then be buried at DFW National Cemetery.