Scott’s Airman Leadership School dedicates auditorium to local hero > Scott Air Force Base > Article Display

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People sit in audience






Scott Air Force Base leadership sits next to deceased Senior Airman Bradley Smith’s parents at a ceremony in the Essex House on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, June 17, 2022. The ceremony took place for Smith, and a room in the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Bud Andrews Airman Leadership School dedicated to him for his courageous acts while deployed in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Madeline Baisey)


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Woman looks at plaques






Paula Smith, mother of the late Senior Airman Bradley Smith, observes plaques with Kimberly Hearth, St. Clair County Executive Director of Military Affairs. in the Scott Air Force Base Airman Leadership School building on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, June 17, 2022. Smith came to the ALS building with Scott leadership to see the dedications given to her son. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Madeline Baisey)


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People stand by plaque






Scott Air Force Base leadership sits next to deceased Senior Airman Bradley Smith’s parents at a ceremony in the Essex House on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, June 17, 2022. The ceremony took place for Smith, and a room in the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Bud Andrews Airman Leadership School dedicated to him for his courageous acts while deployed in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Madeline Baisey)


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Airman speaks at event






U.S. Air Force Col. Chris Robinson, 375th Air Mobility Wing commander, speaks to the current Airman Leadership School class in the Essex House on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, June 17, 2022. Robinson was in attendance at a ceremony honoring Senior Airman Bradley Smith, an Airman who gave his life in the line of duty while deployed in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Madeline Baisey)


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A bronze plaque that hung at Camp Smith in Kandahar, Afghanistan, named after Silver Star recipient and Troy native Senior Airman Bradley R. Smith, has been returned home and will now be displayed in Scott’s Airman Leadership School. 


In addition, the ALS’s auditorium, where students receive instruction on military history and the profession of arms, will now bear his name as well.


“Airman Smith’s plaque on the wall and his name above the door will be the first things our students see as they enter this training area,” said Master Sgt. Kerry Akins, commandant for the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Bud Andrews Airman Leadership School. 


During a ceremony June 17 marking the occasion, Akins recalled how the plaque was returned to the Smith family after the decommissioning of the base and withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the heroic actions that led up to Smith’s Silver Star award, and why it was a perfect fit to be displayed at the ALS building.


Smith was born Sept. 11, 1985, and was just 24 when he was killed in Afghanistan while on patrol. As a Tactical Air Control Party member, or TACP, he was part of a two-man team assigned to support a 13-man Army platoon and was trained to call in close air support should the platoon come under fire.


It was Jan. 3, 2010, that the team entered a village in the Kandahar Province to clear the area when they came under attack. As part of the team advanced over a bridge, they triggered an IED, which killed two soldiers and seriously wounded Senior Airman Mike Malarsie–Brad’s TACP partner.


While under intense fire, Brad and Army medic Brian Bowman went to their aid, crossing the bridge to pull the men from a nearby creek where they had been thrown. They pulled Mike, who was blinded by the explosion, and retrieved the body of the fallen soldier, and brought them to a safe spot where Brad administered “hasty first aid to Mike’s traumatic injuries.”


Once stabilized, Brad rejoined the ongoing firefight and called in close air support. During the next 30 minutes, Brad controlled three separate formations of attack helicopters while steering them clear of friendly fire. By this time, the body of the other fallen soldier had been located and Brad volunteered–without hesitation–to conduct the recovery mission. Joined again by Bowman, they retrieved the body, waded through waist-high water in the creek and just as they made it to the casualty collection point a second IED exploded, killing them both instantly.


“Like Airman Smith, many of our Airmen here may be called upon to serve and protect this nation on the battlefield.  He made the ultimate sacrifice and his exemplary life defines the Air Force Core Values of Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do. The goal of this schoolhouse is to instill those same values. When they walk through these doors, they will see the face of duty, honor and courage. His legacy will live on as a testimony to what it means to lay down your life for another. We will never forget,” Akins said.


Col. Chris Robinson, 375th Air Mobility Wing and Installation commander, said, “Valor like his is rare. It is exceedingly rare. We, as an Air Force, value valor. It’s not something that we can teach you in any professional military education such as Airman Leadership School. That is something that is innate within our Airmen.”


Brad’s parents, Gary and Paula Smith, attended the ceremony, flanked by the current ALS class, wing and civic leaders. During the tour of the auditorium, Gary shared his appreciation to those present for remembering his son.


“If this plaque is an inspiration and a motivator to help these Airmen remember why they are going through this training and to help them do their jobs, then we are grateful to be part of that and this is for them. We never thought we would lose our son, but a lot of people have lost children, and we’re here to help anyone else who has to go through something like this.”


Paula added that she appreciates that people are still remembering Brad. “I was told that a person will never be forgotten as long as their name is said. And that’s why we tell parents … just say their name. So … Bradley.”





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Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander

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