TROY – September 8, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today joined Gold Star families and local leaders at a ceremony honoring Senior Airman Bradley Smith with the Silver Star, the third-highest military decoration that can be awarded to any branch of the United States Military. The posthumous award is in recognition of Smith’s heroic acts to protect other airmen following an attack in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan on January 3, 2010.
“Airman Smith made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country and the debt we owe him can never be repaid,” Governor Quinn said. “This award is a testament to his bravery and his loyalty to his unit and his nation. His memory shall live on in our hearts and in every measure of support we can give to those who have borne the battle.”
According to the Air Force, Smith was on patrol in a village in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan when his unit came under attack. When another part of his team triggered an IED (improvised explosive device), Smith led the wounded airmen to safety. After rejoining the fight, Smith volunteered to recover the body of one of the fallen soldiers, which he did successfully with the assistance of Army Medic Brian Bowman. After they reached the casualty collection point, a second IED exploded, killing both Smith and Bowman.
Today’s ceremony will be held at the beginning of the third annual Bradley Smith Memorial/Scholarship 5k run established in his memory by the Smith family, which has attracted more than 800 participants and provided more than $20,000 in scholarships to students of Triad High School in Troy and to the children of active duty and retired servicemembers. The Silver Star Medal is being delivered to Smith’s family by members of the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron, who also fought bravely alongside Smith that day. The airmen, some of whom were gravely injured in the attack, made a week-long march on foot from Fort Riley, Kansas to Troy.
Governor Quinn is encouraging Illinois residents to honor the servicemen and servicewomen who have lost their lives fighting for democracy by supporting programs that benefit Gold Star Families, including the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund, Operation Hero Miles, and Operation Support Our Troops. For more information about programs for our Veterans, visit www.operationhomefront.org or call the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs at 217-782-6641 or 312-814-2460.