In Summersville, it appeared as if the entire town shut down. The streets were lined with people of all ages with flags in their hands. When the hearse carrying Smith’s body entered the town’s square, everyone stood in silence. Many veterans saluted their fellow brother in arms. The only sounds that could be heard were the clinking of dozens of flags that flapped in the wind and the hum of The Patriot Guard Riders’ motorcycles. “We are all country folk,” Commander of VFW Post 7222 Terry Hartman said. “We all know everybody.” He knew Smith’s parents.
Local Devlyn Hawkins also knew Smith’s parents. “When you live in a town of this size, all it takes is one or two phone calls and before you know it everybody is pitching in,” Hawkins said. Members of the VFW, Ladies Auxiliary, School District, Booster Club, Chamber of Commerce and Dogs off the Leash motorcycle group rallied to gather flags and supporters. “We are going to dole out every flag we've got which will be about 400-500,” Hartman said.
Smith graduated from nearby Licking High School. His parents went to school in Summersville. “That's their post office. This is their square. This is where they sat on Friday or Saturday nights if they got to come to town,” Hawkins said. “I hope when they come down this road and see us all standing here they know how much we love them and how grateful we are for the sacrifice he made and the sacrifice they made.”
“You're proud of him and of course you’re sad,” Hartman said. “You hurt for the family but you're real proud of the man who served.” Another local, Leslie Stauffer, arrived at the event in tears. She had heard about the hundreds of others who supported Smith in nearby Licking and Houston. “It’s a devastating loss. He has two young children,” Stauffer said. “My step-son went to Iraq twice and we were lucky he came home in one piece. It hurts my heart that Lara doesn't get her husband back.”
The superintendent of the Summersville School District allowed the students to leave school and show their support for Smith's grieving family. Students from each grade level hopped off school buses and held flags and handmade signs. “We care, we care a lot,” Stauffer said. “He gave the ultimate sacrifice for his family, for us and we are never going to forget that.”
The quiet moment in the quiet town brought many to tears. “This is a moment in history that they'll be a part of,” Hawkins said about the young students. “They'll always remember watching that casket go by, holding their flags. I hope they take that in and realize these flags are something to be honored.”
Smith will be laid to rest on Saturday with full military honors. A memorial fund is set up in his name at Fisher House an organization that helps families of military members that are injured or sick. Smith's family says he knew at a very early age he wanted to join the military. When his classmates asked him why, he said “someone has to do it." Smith received many awards in the military including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Army Commendation Medal. He had two children with his wife Lara Riann Lingo. He is survived by many family members including his parents Dan Allen Smith and Karla (Jeannie Michel) Smith.
Bradford Funeral Home Obituary: SSG. Tyler James Smith was born July 13, 1987, at Melbourne, Florida to Dan Allen Smith and Karla (Jeannie) (Michel) Smith. While serving in the United States Army, he was killed in Afghanistan, Tuesday, April 3, 2012, making his age 24 years.
Tyler graduated from Licking High School in 2006. He was saved at a young age and was a faithful member of the Licking Pentecostal Church, where he attended until he left for the Army.
He was united in marriage to Lara Riann Lingo on May 15, 2006. They were blessed with two children, son Wyatt age five, and daughter Carson age two.
Tyler was fun to be with, and made people laugh with his quick humor and stories; he loved to tease and was light hearted. He was someone who you could count on to have an opinion, and he wasn’t hesitant to share it with you. Most of all Tyler loved his family, and we are so blessed to have had him in our lives. He enjoyed the peace and quiet of being outdoors. He grew up hunting and fishing with his dad and brother, and taking Wyatt along as he got older, teaching him the skills of being an outdoorsman. He was wrapped around his baby girl’s finger and greatly adored her. He was an avid reader, having magazines and books everywhere. He loved spending time on Current River floating and swimming. When he first starting courting Lara, he would take Ethan fishing at Montauk, fish for a while, then spent the majority of the time at the snack counter where Lara worked. He knew he wanted to be in the military as a very young boy. When he was asked by classmates, after enlisting in the Army of why he joined, he said, “Somebody has to do it.” It was his responsibility to do what he could. He loved his job and his fellow brothers in arms.
Preceding Tyler in death is his paternal grandparents, Don and Wilma Smith, maternal grandfather Charles Michel, and cousin Jackie Michel, and his father-in-law Michael Lingo.
Tyler is survived by his wife Lara Smith and children, son Wyatt and daughter Carson, all of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, his parents, Dan and Jeannie Smith, brother Ethan Smith all of Licking, Missouri, maternal grandmother Nadine Michel of Hartshorn, Missouri, uncles and aunts, Diana and Butch, Rhonda, Lonnie and Mary, Denny and Debra, Curt and Melissa, and Kelli, and a host of great aunts, uncles, and many cousins, his in-laws, Jan and Wayne Hansen, and Elaina Lingo, brothers-in-law, Adam, Aaron, and Dustin Martin, and sisters-in-law, Jessica Boyd, Amanda Yates and Brittany Lingo.
Funeral Services will be held Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 2:00 PM at the Licking Pentecostal Church with Rev. David Jett and Rev. Jerry Dodson officiating. Interment will be in Smith Cemetery of Texas County on Big Creek with full Military Honors and Honors Escort by the Patriot Guard. Arrangements are under the care of Bradford Funeral Home. Online condolences may be left at bradfordfuneralhome.net. Donations may be made to the Tyler J. Smith Memorial Fund at Fisher House or donate through fisherhouse.org