• Paula Smith takes a moment of silence next to her son, Senior Airman Bradley Smith's, memorial stone June 17 following the Fort Riley Victory Park ceremony honoring the post's fallen servicemembers from the past year.

    Airmen march in honor of fallen comrade

    Paula Smith takes a moment of silence next to her son, Senior Airman Bradley Smith's, memorial stone June 17 following the Fort Riley Victory Park ceremony honoring the post's fallen servicemembers from the past year.

  • Eight-month old Chloe Smith sits next to her father, Senior Airman Bradley Smith's, memorial stone June 17 following the Victory Park Ceremony at Fort Riley. Six Fort Riley servicemembers who died in the past year were honored during the ceremony.

    Airmen march in honor of fallen comrade

    Eight-month old Chloe Smith sits next to her father, Senior Airman Bradley Smith's, memorial stone June 17 following the Victory Park Ceremony at Fort Riley. Six Fort Riley servicemembers who died in the past year were honored during the ceremony.

  • Air Force Staff Sgt. Adam Rafferty, 10th Air Support Operations Squadron, traces Senior Airman Bradley Smith's memorial stone June 17 following Fort Riley's Victory Park Ceremony, a ceremony honoring servicemembers from Fort Riley who died in the past year.

    Airmen march in honor of fallen comrade

    Air Force Staff Sgt. Adam Rafferty, 10th Air Support Operations Squadron, traces Senior Airman Bradley Smith's memorial stone June 17 following Fort Riley's Victory Park Ceremony, a ceremony honoring servicemembers from Fort Riley who died in the past...

  • Gary Smith, father of fallen Senior Airmen Bradley Smith, marches with Air Force Staff Sgt. Larry Hickey and Air Force Lt. Col. Roy Fatur, 10th Air Support Operations Squadron, June 17 during a memorial ruck march in Brad Smith's honor. Gary Smith joined the Airmen, who marched for 470 miles, for the last leg of the march arriving at Fort Riley.

    Airmen march in honor of fallen comrade

    Gary Smith, father of fallen Senior Airmen Bradley Smith, marches with Air Force Staff Sgt. Larry Hickey and Air Force Lt. Col. Roy Fatur, 10th Air Support Operations Squadron, June 17 during a memorial ruck march in Brad Smith's honor. Gary Smith...

  • Among a group of more than 30 Airmen, Senior Airman Bradley Smith's wife, Tiffany, pushes their daughter, Chloe, in stroller during a memorial ruck march June 17 at Fort Riley in Smith's honor. Smith died Jan. 3 while serving with the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron in Afghanistan. The Airmen marched for seven days through three states for 470 miles to remember the fallen airman.

    Airmen march in honor of fallen comrade

    Among a group of more than 30 Airmen, Senior Airman Bradley Smith's wife, Tiffany, pushes their daughter, Chloe, in stroller during a memorial ruck march June 17 at Fort Riley in Smith's honor. Smith died Jan. 3 while serving with the 10th Air Support...

  • Airmen from the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron march June 17 behind Whitside Barracks at Fort Riley as part of the Bradley Smith Memorial Ruck March in honor of the fallen airman who died Jan. 3 in Afghanistan. The Airmen began their March June 10 in Glen Carbon, Ill., at the site of Smith's grave.

    Airmen march in honor of fallen comrade

    Airmen from the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron march June 17 behind Whitside Barracks at Fort Riley as part of the Bradley Smith Memorial Ruck March in honor of the fallen airman who died Jan. 3 in Afghanistan. The Airmen began their March June...

FORT RILEY, Kan. - Through rain, hail, darkness and thunderstorms more than 30 members of the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron marched more than 470 miles to remember a fallen airman.

A memorial ruck march began June 10 at 12:47 p.m. - the time of Senior Airman Bradley Smith's death - from his gravesite in Glen Carbon, Ill. Two airmen walked together for a 12-mile leg around the clock through three states for seven days. The march memorialized Smith, who died Jan. 3 while serving with the 10th ASOS in Afghanistan.

"It was something back when this first happened that the guys in the squadron wanted to do," said Air Force Lt. Col. Roy Fatur, commander, 10th ASOS. "It kind of goes along with our training and they wanted to do something physical to remember, to honor him and that was a perfect fit. When you look at the combination, you want something to be difficult and you want to add significance to it that was perfect when you looked at it on the map. It's a long distance and it just fit to do it from there to here."

Air Force Staff Sgt. Nathan Phillips, Tactical Air Control Party, 10th ASOS, organized the ruck in honor of his fellow airman.

"(It was) Just something that he definitely would have liked to have done," Phillips said. "He's the kind of guy that it would be his idea to ruck from his home town out to here for no apparent reason at the time. When we thought about it we thought what better way than to go from his gravesite to here. He was an athletic, work-out, go-hard-all-the-time kind of guy so it felt fitting."

Arriving at the Ogden Gate at 6 a.m. June 17 the more than 30 airmen were joined by Smith's wife, Tiffany, pushing their 8-month old daughter, Chloe, in a stroller; his father, Gary; as his mother, Paula, followed behind in a car for the final five miles to the ASOS headquarters at Fort Riley.

"Brad was all about the physical and this is something that's a great testament," Paula said. "They decided amongst themselves to do it; nobody asked them to do it."

Throughout the entire ruck, the group carried Smith's uniform and a memorial stone that was placed in Victory Park during the Victory Park ceremony June 17, which honored servicemembers from Fort Riley who had died in the last year.

Upon his high school graduation Smith attended college for a short time and was a department manager for Lowe's before deciding to follow in his brother's military footsteps and joining the Air Force in 2006.

Smith first went to the para-rescue program before being injured and having to pick a different field. He joined the TACP field and also graduated from airborne and pathfinder school.

"He was going to be in the action no matter what," Paula said.

Smith's parents describe him as an all-American boy who loved life and loved his Family.
"He played football, played baseball," Paula said. "Just a good friend to a lot of people; we've found that out all over the country, but we have no idea how many lives he touched. It's been a testament to him. He loved his wife and his baby that above all else. He called her every day from Afghanistan."

Smith also had a love for serving in the Air Force.

"He loved his job and he was willing to do whatever he had to do for his job," Paula said.

Fatur described Smith as a superior person, airman and husband as well as a role model.

"I think he was a role model for everybody," he said. "Everything he did was 100 percent. As we've went through these memorials and different people have done speeches and such; everybody has examples of him going above and beyond any requirement that there was of him regardless of what it was; whether it was training or working out, he was always doing more. Everybody points out his love of his Family."

"He's just a good friend," Phillips said. "Probably the nicest and best guy I'd ever met got a chance to meet. He was never mad, always got a smile on his face, hardest working guy I've ever met."

As their granddaughter grows the Smith's will tell her about her dad.

"We're going to tell her that he was full of life, that he loved her, he loved God and he wanted her to grow up with the love of God like he had," Paula said. "I think that (Brad and Chloe) would have been such an awesome team. He was so happy to have a little girl; he was there for her birth and was there for a month after she was born before he left. We're just going to tell her what an awesome dad she had."

During their visits to Fort Riley, the Smith Family has seen how many lives their son touched.

"We've lost our son but we've gained about 30 sons," Gary said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16