Teachers, friends remember Tahoe soldier killed in Iraq

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U.S. Army Sgt. Timothy M. Smith, a 2001 South Tahoe High School graduate, died Monday in Baghdad, Iraq.

According to a U.S. Army press release, Smith was killed when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device while conducting a route clearance patrol.

On Wednesday, STHS staff and friends fondly recalled their time with the South Lake Tahoe resident.

Irma Salazar, now a campus security guard at the school, remembers Tim Smith well. The two graduated together from the school in 2001 and were good friends. Salazar recalls Smith as a good-natured teenager, "the class clown" who liked to skateboard and was always up to having fun with students and faculty.

"He got along with everybody and was very social with everybody. He was a real people person," Salazar said, recalling how the pair periodically goofed off.

She remembers, for instance, the time she carried Smith in her arms to class.

"We laughed the whole time," she said.

Dee Petrell, a school workability job developer, recalls Smith as a "very nice young man" who gently blended courtesy with a genuine sense of humor.

"He was a real sweetheart," Petrell said. "He would give everyone hugs when he'd see them. He was a loving person with a big heart."

As a paraprofessional educator at South Tahoe High School, Eleanor Heckendorm worked with Smith for three years and also knew him when she worked at the Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe.

She said Smith was "an incredible young man, full of life and energy. He could make you smile. He could make you laugh, and sometimes he could make you angry. He was a just a great all-around kid."

Smith joined the Army in April 2004 and completed basic and advanced individual training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., according to the Public Affairs Office at Fort Drum, N.Y., 10th Mountain Division.

Smith was assigned to Fort Polk, La., in September 2004. He previously deployed with his unit to Afghanistan from March to November 2006 and deployed to Iraq in November 2007. His military education included the Warrior Leader Course, Combat Lifesaver Course and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Team Course.

Fort Drum listed Smith's awards as the Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal and the Combat Action Badge.

Smith is survived by his wife and son, who are both of Fort Polk, La.; his father, of Reno; his mother, Patricia, of South Lake Tahoe, and his brother Tom and sister Jackie.


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