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Memorial marks Marine’s death

– Family and friends of a U.S. Marine from Indiana who died in a 2003 Humvee crash in Kuwait marked the 10th anniversary of his death by gathering for a somber memorial at his grave site.

Lance Cpl. Matthew R. Smith was 21 when he died on May 10, 2003, when his Humvee crashed during a military convoy to Kuwait’s Camp Coyote. He had worked as radio operator for the 4th Force Service Support Group out of Peru, Ind.

Smith’s mother, Patricia Smith, said during Friday’s gathering at Anderson Memorial Park that she treasures her memories of him.

But she told The Herald Bulletin that even after a decade “the pain doesn’t ever really numb.”

“You just learn to live with it. You try to keep the memories,” she said.

Some of Smith’s fellow Marines also attended Friday’s memorial. They gathered under a canopy over his gravestone, which includes a bronze-etched photograph of Smith’s graduation day from the U.S. Marine Corps.

Smith died only days after writing his mother to tell her he was coming home. Patricia Smith learned of her son’s death on Mother’s Day 2003 when his platoon commander and casualty assistance officer, Suzanne Handshoe, knocked on her door to deliver the news.

“That news changed all of our lives,” said Handshoe, who’s now the mayor of Kendallville. She said she keeps pictures of Smith and other Marines in her office as reminders of the cost of freedom.

“No. 1, that freedom is not free, and No. 2, that they will not be forgotten,” Handshoe said.

Smith would have been 31 this month.