Downed helicopter brings back painful memories for Monroe City family

29-year-old Capt. Ben Smith / Photo courtesy of

When word came down a week ago that 30 Americans died as their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan, the news hit close to home for the Smith family of Monroe City.

In 2003, 29-year-old Capt. Ben Smith was piloting a Black Hawk helicopter that was shot down by a shoulder-fired missile. Ben was one of six soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division who died in that crash near Tikrit, Iraq.

Ben is buried at Swinkey, the church community where he was raised just outside of Monroe City.

As the military men who died in Afghanistan are laid to rest this week, Ben Smith TMs family feels their pain.

It TMs hard to talk about, says Ben TMs sister, Mary Smith Sims. You just feel so sorry for those families because you know what they are going through.

Just moments before Capt. Smith took off on his doomed mission, he wrote in an e-mail to his family that he was looking forward to flying the helicopter. It will be good for me to get out of the office for a day, he wrote.

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Ben loved flying and he loved his country. Even more importantly, he had faith in his country and a remarkable faith in God. He told his mom that he knew the risks as a Black Hawk pilot, but if he died in the helicopter, he TMd be happy.

We were so comforted by knowing Ben was there doing what he believed in, Sims told me. He was doing what he loved. I just hope these families have that kind of closure.

In memory of Capt. Benedict Joseph Smith and all who have sacrificed serving our country|

Take care ~Sarah D.