By John Rutherford, Producer, NBC News, Washington
A memorial service was held last Friday at Arlington National Cemetery for a soldier who died in Iraq after his discharge from the Army was blocked and his enlistment was extended.
Sgt. Timothy M. Smith, 25, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., was one of more than 12,000 soldiers currently subjected to stop-loss orders, which force them to remain in the Army involuntarily.
"He should have been out," his father told the Tahoe Daily Tribune. "He had done his duty."
Smith had joined the Army in 2004 and had served a nine-month tour in Afghanistan in 2006.
"He was pretty gung-ho going to Afghanistan," his brother told the Daily Tribune.
But Smith's attitude changed after he returned home. He married Shayna Richards on July 4, 2007, and began the formal process of adopting her infant son Riley.
"He had a family to come back to, a wife and a son to come home to," his brother said.
Smith decided to leave the Army, but he was prevented from doing so by stop-loss. He was shipped instead to Iraq in November 2007 to clear roadside bombs and was killed by one of them on April 7, 2008.
"As much as you think that you prepare yourself, you can never, ever prepare yourself for something like this," Shayna told the Daily Tribune.
Smith's memorial service contained no casket or urn because his ashes had been scattered earlier by his family. His tombstone, inscribed "In Memory of Timothy M Smith Sgt US Army," was placed on a sloping hill of Arlington National Cemetery's Memorial Section K, not in Section 60, where most of the casualties of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried.
"I am very proud to be Timmy's mom," his mother said afterward. "He is a Hero, and always has been, and I miss him so much, but know I will see him again one day."
Family photo of Sgt. Timothy M. Smith, wife, Shayna, and son, Riley.
1. Army Sgt. Michael Clark, 24, of Sacramento, Calif.
2. Army Sgt. Geoffrey Johnson, 28, of Lubbock, Texas.
3. Army Pfc. Scott Dimond, 39, of Franklin, N.H.
4. Army Pfc. Christopher McCraw, 23, of Columbia, Miss.
5. Army Spc. Cory Bertrand, 18, of Center, Texas.
6. Army Spc. Stephen Fortunato, 25, of Danvers, Mass.
7. Army Sgt. Preston Medley, 23, of Baker, Fla.
8. Army Sgt. John Penich, 25, of Beach Park, Ill.
9. Army Sgt. Federico Borjas, 33, of San Diego, Calif.
Washington Producer John Rutherford is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He also posts stories on the military at www.fieldnotes.msnbc.com (click on "John Rutherford" under "categories") and at http://john-rutherford.newsvine.com. The first tribute gallery can be found at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22802019/ and the second at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27336564.