Hundreds mourn loss of soldier killed in Iraq |

Hundreds mourn loss of soldier killed in Iraq

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (AP) – Hundreds of people gathered Friday to mourn the loss of a soldier from South Lake Tahoe who was killed April 7 after a roadside bomb exploded during routine patrol in Iraq.

Sgt. Timothy Smith, 25, was remembered as perpetual joker who was close to his family and had enlisted in the military to make the world safer for his one-year-old son, Riley.

The crowd, which included soldiers and police officers as well as bikers and ski bums, spilled into the parking lot of the Sierra Community Church.

Smith, an Army engineer, was a 2001 graduate of South Tahoe High School. He was assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Polk, La. He was killed in Baghdad.

“We had the same birthday, Sept. 20,” said longtime friend Tyler Erickson. “When he lived here, we’d always all go over to the Smith house. Even after (he left), he’d try to make it up to see us. All I can say is I’m really gonna miss him.”

Sgt. Sammy Baker, who met Smith in the military, called him “a great leader.”

“This is the third brother-in-arms I’ve lost, but it’s the first best friend,” Baker said. “Sgt. Smith, it seems like yesterday I was giving you advice on how to be a good sergeant.”

“Every leader wants his soldiers to end up being better leaders than he is, and for the first time, Sgt. Smith, I’m going to say this: You were.”