BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- It looked identical -- it was the same size and even bore the same rank - but the Advanced Combat Helmet that Lt. Col. Timothy Smith, commander of the Arny Reserve's 314th Public Affairs Operations Center wore to the range that day was more than standard issue. For Smith, it was a gesture for a fallen hero.
Smith's ACH belonged to the late Lt. Col. Jeffrey Dryden who had been killed exactly two months prior in a motorcycle accident near his home in Vicksburg, Miss.
Dryden and Smith were close friends and confidants who shared an office in the Intelligence section of the 412th Theater Engineer Command.
Following a 2009 deployment to Afghanistan with a 412th TEC headquarters element, Dryden had proudly displayed the helmet in his office in Vicksburg.
Smith decided to wear the helmet to the M-9 pistol qualification range on December 3, 2011 at Anniston Army Depot to pay homage to the late hero.
"Wearing Jeff's ACH to the range was kind of like having a piece of him with me," said Smith. "Jeff was a Soldier's Soldier who loved to train, and would give you the shirt off his back at any time. I will always miss him, but especially when we are training."
Smith said he plans to continue to wear the helmet during future exercises and deployments - in honor of his friend and hero.