FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Members of the Fort Jackson community said goodbye Tuesday to a man known to many as a friend and mentor.

Retired Sgt. Maj. Walter Smith Jr. was laid to rest this week at the Fort Jackson National Cemetery. He died Oct. 30 in Homburg, Germany of heart complications. The Beaumont, Texas native was 59.

Dan Garrett, a casualty training instructor at Fort Jackson, was one of those who knew Smith during his military career. Smith and Garrett lived in the same neighborhood, and also worked together in Smith's catering company.

Smith's son, Walter Smith III, said his father was the type of man who left an impression on everyone he met.

"Daddy was a very loving, disciplined and focused person," he said. "I think it was his life mission to make everything and everyone around him better.

"He was an excellent man, and excellent role model. He gave unselfishly, he poured himself out to those around him."

During his time at Fort Jackson, Smith served as command sergeant major of the 369th Adjutant General Battalion, and later as chief trainer, the position in which he retired.

After his retirement in 1998, he continued his catering service and went on to work as an area coordinator for Limestone College. Since last year, he worked for military contractor MPRI in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Smith's sister, Madalynne Peters, said her brother will be missed.
She recounted how family members expected her brother to become a preacher. But Smith knew he wanted to join the Army, she said. As a military man, however, Peters said she thinks Smith was still able to touch the lives of many.

"Even though he didn't turn out to be the preacher my mother wanted, he turned out to be a preacher in his own way," she said.

Garrett said Smith touched lives by being there for his Soldiers, among others.

"He was the one person that if you needed a friend, or wanted someone to help you in your military career ... you could confide in him about anything," he said.

In fact, Garrett said, Smith was more like family than a friend and colleague.

"This is the guy that I call my big brother," he said. "My kids even called him uncle -- that's how close we were.

"For most people, he probably could be considered a hero, because I know he was mine."

He is survived by sons, Walter (Charlene) Smith III and Jonathan C. Baber; daughter, Andraus M. (Kevin) Day; sisters, Madalynne Peters, Ollie Lee Hazley and Novie Lee Waters; and five grandchildren.