Kemp graduate-turned soldier, Sgt. Robert Smith,
returns home after four tours of service in Iraq
Special to The Monitor
KEMP–A Kemp family prepared a warm homecoming for U.S. Army Sgt. Robert
Smith recently. He returned to his parents Jan and Don Smith and sister
Sarah, having completed his fourth tour of duty oversees.
When Robert Smith joined the Army in May, 2001, following his graduation
from Kemp High School, he looked forward to an exciting military career.
What he got was beyond his expectations.
Back then, the country of Iraq and its chief city Baghdad were rarely
mentioned in the news, since Robert joined four months before Sept. 11,
2001 – the attack on the World Trade Center twin towers and the
Neither did he know of Ali Hassan al-Majid, the person responsible for
the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi Kurds and was dubbed “Chemical
Ali” by the Kurds.
This man ordered the release of chemical weapons on Kurdish towns and
These places and person would become very much a part of Robert’s
After basic and advanced individual training, Robert was stationed in
Vicenza, Italy with the Southern European Task Force.
As a member of a Special Operations Unit in the 173rd Airborne Brigade,
Robert performed missions into Kosovo and Africa, from 2001-2002.
In March of 2003, the 173rd Airborne was ordered to make a combat jump
into Kirkuk, Iraq. A thousand paratroopers jumped with great precision
and eventually took control of the air base.
Robert spent 13 months with the 173rd in and around Baghdad and in the
northern city of Kirkuk.
At the conclusion of this tour, Robert returned stateside and was
attached to the 1st Cavalry out of Fort Hood. After additional training
he was sent back to Iraq for another tough tour.
Robert was stationed at Camp Eagle in a huge slum area of Baghdad called
Sadr City. Robert took part in many battles and missions, some so
intense that Sadr City became known as the site of the bloodies battles
of the war.
Following this intense nine-month tour, Robert was highly commended and
decorated. The unit was short of tank and heavy armament commanders as
well as gunners, so volunteers were asked to step forward. Robert was
one of them.
He learned the Army’s GPS systems and the highly technical gun
operations, while in action and became one of the best gunners in the
He eventually became a lead gunner in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and
completed this third tour the mid-2005.
Since Robert was well trained, experienced and excelled in his
assignments, he received special orders to be a part of a new unit being
formed in Fort Lewis, Washington. He is currently a member of the 38th
Stryker Infantry Regiment, under the 1st Battalion in the 2nd Infantry
This unit is a quick response force, capable of possibly conquering
Baghdad and taking the fight to Al Qaeda quickly and fiercely.
These officers and soldiers performed the assignments given them with
It took a little more than a year to assemble and train the soldiers on
specialized equipment to operate the new “Stryker” combat machine.
Stryker Brigade Combat Teams were created, trained and sent to Baghdad
to start the surge that we all heard about.
During a battalion formation, President Bush declared through a video
teleconference that this unit was the most successful combat unit since
the beginning of the war. Robert was among those team members who were
awarded a memorial coin by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
Adm. Michael Mullen.
We, his family, would like to thank everyone for all the prayers and
support for the last seven years for Robert’s continued safety,
endurance, courage under fire and return.
We are very proud of Robert and what he has done and will continue to do
for our country.
Robert Smith (top left) stands with other members of his Stryker Combat
in front of their mobile Stryker Combat Machine.
Events for the Fourth
Monitor Staff Reports
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Everyone is looking forward to the Fourth of July and
the celebration of our country’s birth.
Besides the private events that are becoming a part of the celebration
here at Cedar Creek Lake there are quite a few public events taking
place as well.
The Seven Points Volunteer Fire Department is holding its annual
fireworks show around 9 p.m. Friday, July 4. Folks begin gathering on
the lawn behind the library by the city park to view the light show from
the back of pickups and lawn chairs, while enjoying home-brought
Earlier in the day the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4376 in Seven
Points is holding a patriotic program at 1 p.m. with featured speakers,
patriotic music and post program refreshments. The post is located on
Veterans Lane just south of the intersection off State Highway 274 by
the bowling alley.
The Business and Civic Association of Kemp is also holding a daytime
event with the Kemp July Fest on Saturday, following the Fourth, at the
Musical entertainment under the new pavilion is on tap, food and game
booths are part of the fun with a parade starting at 2 p.m. down Main
Street, one block west of Business 175 (Elm Street).
All are encouraged to wear their red, white and blue and celebrate being
Gun Barrel City is hosting its inaugural July 4 Festival with the same
pyrotechnics who treated the lake area at the All Things Christmas
Festival last year.
Festivities are set to be held from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday at the city
park on Municipal Drive.
Several bands are scheduled to provide the entertainment, while food
booths are hosted by school groups. The police department will be
offering free fingerprinting and ID kits for the kids and the fire
department will pass out free hats for the kids.
Picnic blankets and lawn chairs are all that’s needed.
A semi-private event is set for 7 p.m. Saturday, July 5. The Pinnacle
Golf and Boat Club is hosting an air show, featuring Pinnacle resident
Randy Ball, and active-duty Navy and Air Force pilots. Non residents may
view the aerial show from the water. A specific area in front of the
clubhouse will be off-limits for safety reasons. A fireworks show
follows at 9 p.m.The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will be stationed in the
area to ensure the safety of the event.
The annual fireworks show at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in
Athens is set for sunset, around 9:15 p.m. Police will be directing
traffic to designated parking areas and erecting detours to aid in
efficient departures after the show.
Gun Barrel City, Mabank, Tool, Enchanted Oaks, Payne Springs and Kemp
remind citizens that the igniting of fireworks within the city limits is
against the law and encourage citizens to enjoy the free fireworks
displays especially provided for them.
Area law enforcement will be beefed up for the holidays, looking
especially for those driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Have a safe and happy Fourth of July.