Marine injured in Iraq wants to stay in service
Luna Pier man loses foot, suffers other injuries from mortar blast

LUNA PIER, Mich. - It was a phone call all Marines' parents dread: Their son had been seriously injured in combat.

But Lance Cpl. Corey Smith, 19, of Luna Pier, who lost his left foot and sustained shrapnel injures to both his legs, buttocks, ear, and stomach in Iraq, still wants to return to service in the war-torn country.

Corporal Smith was transported to a hospital in Germany on Tuesday night. He underwent stomach surgery yesterday to remove some remaining shrapnel.

Ronnie and Renee Smith, of Luna Pier, received the news Monday, the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

A mortar attack outside Ramadi caused the injuries that led doctors to amputate Corporal Smith's left foot about four inches above the ankle.

His parents will meet him tomorrow in Washington. The Marine Corps will pay their travel expenses.

"He seemed very well - better than I could have expected," said Mr. Smith, after finally talking to his son Tuesday night. "They asked him [at the hospital] if he was ready to leave and go home . . . . He said absolutely not, he wants to stay in the corps."

He said his son would like to move from infantry to air-traffic control, a profession his son can see himself pursuing after his four-year enlistment in the Marines. It is something he could do despite his injuries, his father said.

Corporal Smith first talked to his parents about becoming a Marine when he was 10 years old. "But when he got older and really started talking serious about it, we decided to enroll him [in the Monroe County Young Marines] … so if he didn't like it he'd still have time to change his mind and find a different career," his father said.

"We support him. … I mean, anything that [your children] decide to do, you have to stand behind them, if they show so much enthusiasm."

While in the Young Marines, Corporal Smith participated in a national junior leadership program in Chicago where he received the "most motivated" award.

Edward Litten of Newport, Mich., was Corporal Smith's commanding officer in the Young Marines.

"He was one of the best Young Marines we had," he said. "He knew what he wanted, knew how to get it, and was excellent in everything he attempted."

Corporal Smith joined the Young Marines when he was 16. He enlisted in the Marine Corps on his 17th birthday, Aug. 14, 2005. He started boot camp the day after his 18th birthday.

And now, a month after his 19th birthday, he will begin rehabilitation in Washington.

Contact Benjamin Alexander-Bloch
or 419-724-6050.