Nineteen-year-old Lance Cpl. Colin Smith of the Second Mobile Assault Platoon of Weapons Company, Second Battalion, Eighth Marines, had been stationed in Iraq three months, dutifully carrying out routine orders.
The day before Halloween 2006, his platoon completed a successful search mission. The troops discovered weapons in the homes of villagers, among them five Kalashnikov assault rifles and bomb-making components.
The village was Al-Karmah, 10 miles northeast of Fallujah in the Al Anbar Province. Smith, seated in the gun turret of the lead vehicle, was hit by sniper fire.
The 7.62mm armor-piercing bullet proved ineffectual. A medic, 22 year old Navy Corpsman Dustin Kirby, an ace helicopter pilot, and the immediate care of skillful surgeons, nurses, and medical support services staff at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center guaranteed that Smith would survive the next day, Halloween 2006.
His costume that year was a hospital gown.
Months of intensive care, surgeries, and rehabilitation at Bethesda Naval Medical Center and the Minneapolis VA followed.
Eight years later, this gentle, Purple Heart recipient enjoys his busy life. Smith visits his friends and medical team at the Cleveland VA on Wednesdays. He is a member of the year-round “Return to Golf” program at the North Olmsted Golf Course under the tutelage of PGA pro Trevor Hazen. Smith also enjoys working at the Amherst American Legion on “Taco Tuesdays.”
Since he was a youngster donning a crazy clown costume, Smith has always loved Halloween. This year is no exception.
He is looking forward to dressing up Saturday to help pass out candy at his LaGrange home. This year’s theme is “Star Wars” in anticipation of the opening of the new film release on Friday, Dec. 17. Smith will transform himself into a Jedi warrior excited to meet the eager neighborhood trick-or-treaters. His mother will portray Princess Leia and his Pomeranian pup, Primo, will be Chewbacca.
Readers will have an opportunity to shake Smith’s hand at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 11 at the 5th Annual Amherst Veterans Day ceremony at the municipal lot, 248 Park Ave.
Just don’t call Smith a hero — that’s a title he reserves for his pal Dustin Kirby, who was himself injured just three weeks after saving Smith’s life in Iraq.
Courtesy photo Colin Smith plans to dress as a Jedi for Halloween. But when you see him Nov. 11 at the Amherst Veterans Day ceremony, he’ll probably be wearing his trusty Marine Corps hat.