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Smith family still not convinced war was justified

Shocking news still vivid

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MARTIN, S.C. --- When the people in Army uniforms came to tell her, Iratean Smith screamed before they could say anything.

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Iratean Smith  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Iratean Smith

She was at work at the Dayco Products automotive parts plant when a man and woman showed up at her house. Her daughter called and said she'd better get home.

It took her 25 minutes to get there, telling herself on the way that her son must be missing or dead. When she pulled up and saw the Army car, she lost it in the front yard.

"I went in the house screaming," she said. "I just screamed so hard. I just figured if I didn't hear them, it wouldn't be true."

After the truth sank in that her only son, Sgt. Orenthial "OJ" Smith, had been killed by enemy fire, Smith became viciously opposed to the campaign in Iraq, seething at President Bush and bashing the "senseless war" to any reporter who would listen. She had been against the invasion from the start because it meant people would die, but with her son among them, she was furious.

"The question is, do they want our help?" she told The Augusta Chronicle in 2005. "If you come to my home to help me, and I don't want you here, eventually you're going to have to leave."

She also told reporters that while her son loved the Army, he was against the war. She has since come to realize that his feelings were more complicated than that, and it's begun a healing process that has her good days finally outnumbering the bad.

"Not that I support the war, but I think different about it," Smith said. "It was something he wanted to do. He was happy doing what he did."

She spent years leaning on her faith, and finally, about two years ago, an epiphany came in a dream. She saw her son and her late father, John Smith, sitting on the couch in her den.

"If you had to do it over again, would you do it?" she asked her son.

He smiled at her. "Yeah, Mom," he said, then he and his grandfather faded away.

Something else occurred to her, something about fate and God calling his children home.

"Whether he was in Germany or in Martin, it was his time to go," she said. "Something would have happened. It was his time."

Life moves on, she said. Her son's former girlfriend got married a few years ago, and she went to the wedding. She got a call from her this past Mother's Day, too. Both occasions left her happy, she said, not sad.

But she still has hard days -- when she's depressed, crying incessantly and wanting only to be alone. Much of her house remains a shrine to her son.

There's an enlarged 24-by-36-inch portrait of him over the television, wearing his Army forest fatigues uniform, and a scattering of framed pictures from his childhood and high school years. There's a framed pencil sketch of him near the dining room table.

By the front door, dominating the den, is a display case packed with relics and mementos, including his Army Bible, his uniform insignias, his Purple Heart, a glass eagle with outstretched wings, a folded flag given to her by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham that had flown over the Capitol, and a watch that came back with her son's personal effects, still packed with sand that's slipping out and accumulating on a glass shelf.

Also on the wall are photos of her 5-year-old grandson, DaShawn Orenthial, named for the uncle he'll never meet.

The child's mother, Talisha Sherrod, 28, of Columbia, said she's still seeing a therapist about her brother's death. What makes it harder, she said, is that she considers the war an unjust waste of lives.

"I don't think you ever get over it. I haven't gotten over it, and it's been seven years," Sherrod said. "A big part of my life is missing. I'm still upset, angry, mad. I never understood why he had to go over there. I never understood why any of them had to go over there."

She said she gets tired of hearing people say it was fought for our freedom. Americans weren't in jeopardy of losing freedom over anything in Iraq, she said.

"I feel like my brother and a lot of people died for nothing," she said. "I'll be happy when all this stops."

Even though he expressed nervousness about going over, if her brother had been pressed on the issue, Sherrod admits, he would have looked at the war as his duty. She recalls him saying that when you take the oath of enlistment, you never know where you might be sent.

He went even further in his final letter to his mother, dated June 7, 2003, chastising those who don't appreciate troops "with their lives on the line for our country."

He wrote of fending off machine gun attacks on the road to Baghdad, of running out of food and ice, of sandstorms blowing down their tents and of the Iraqi civilians' squalid living conditions.

"Mom, read this letter to many people as you can, especially to my loving sister, Talisha," he wrote. "Let them know to appreciate of where there at, and that we're still here fighting to help Iraq and also defending our great country.

"Even though you're not on the battlefield fighting the battle and going through the amount of stress we're facing, you're still a part of this war," the letter said. "Again, thank you for what you do and I ask that you continue to support us in every way you can. From all of us on the front lines, thank you, we love you America, and we will return home."

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stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 08/23/10 - 07:05 am
0
0
This young man went in

This young man went in knowing that he may be called up to this war, and he like many others over the years and over many wars have made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. My question now is when will they be home for good, when will it ever end?

curly123053
5378
Points
curly123053 08/23/10 - 07:07 am
0
0
God bless him !!!

God bless him !!!

Riverrunner30909
149
Points
Riverrunner30909 08/23/10 - 10:05 am
0
0
As sad as it is when some
Unpublished

As sad as it is when some family loses a loved on due to war. We all know unless we are a bleeding heart liberal or just totally ignorant this will happen. There is one thing for certain it is not up to us as individuals to question where a particular war is justified. I personally think it is fantastic that only a little less than 5000 were killed, I am from the Korea, and Vietnam era and in Vietnam there were around 63,000 US military killed. That equates to 2 killed per day in Iraq, and 10 a day in Vietnam it could have been 2 brothers killed in the same wars as it was in my family.

csrawarrior
0
Points
csrawarrior 08/23/10 - 10:19 am
0
0
My condolences to this family

My condolences to this family and all of the families that have lost loved ones in this rouse called the "War On Terror."
Stillamazed asks the question "when will the be home for good, when will it ever end?" The answer is, not until the Empire has succeeded in spreading its tentacles all over the globe or the people stand up and bring this madness to an end!
The Empire also will not be stopped until media outlets like this one do some serious reporting on what's really behind all of this. The people must also make a stand and quit putting up with the lies and propaganda being put out by major media and the government. This senseless war mongering will stop when the politicians are finally rounded up, tried and thrown into prison for their war crimes.
I, the average Joe, goes out and kills or causes the death of one fellow citizen and I am rightly tried and punished for my crime; however politicians can lie us into war and kill hundreds of thousands and go on to live happily ever after.
A new front needs to be opened up and that should be against the corrupt to the core government. This can and must be done through peaceful means. If we ever hope to see true peace in the world and recapture our Republic the people must get themselves informed and stand up!

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
Points
JohnRandolphHardisonCain 08/23/10 - 10:41 am
0
0
Riverrunner30903 wrote at

Riverrunner30903 wrote at 11:05 am: "There is one thing for certain it is not up to us as individuals to question where a particular war is justified."

That's insane. Of course it is up to us as individuals to question whether a particular war is justified. Many individuals protested the Vietnam War. The consensus among historians now is that the Vietnam War was unnecessary and a mistake.

Millions around the world and hundreds of thousands here in United States marched against the United States going to war in Iraq. One protester pleaded with President George W. Bush not to wage war in Iraq. "I get to decide that, you don't" Bush scoffed.

Every pretext that American leaders used to go to war in Iraq proved false. The effects of the illegal U.S.-led invasion of 2003 and the subsequent occupation have been catastrophic for Iraqis, for entire the Middle East region, and for United States domestically and internationally.

Americans will be living with the negative effects of the disastrous U.S. war in Iraq for the next 50 years or more. Time will heal wounds, but unless we learn from our history, we will repeat the same stupid mistake again. It will be America's young men and women who pay the price for our blood lust.

CATFISHSTEW
14
Points
CATFISHSTEW 08/23/10 - 01:00 pm
0
0
We are trying to force

We are trying to force Democracy down the Iraq and Afganistan peoples
throats..These poeple have been at each other for thousands of years. Now we come to their county and say you are going to do this and that..
Not going to happen..We could have saved all of those lives that were lost...If we would have just shoard up our borders and stopped terriost
threats here at home Wasted lives and a hellva lot of wasted money that could
have been used to protect us here at home. do you think that some country said that they were going to occupy our country that we would say OK ..I don't think so..Look at it from their perspective it the same concluesion...Bring every one HOME and mind our bussiness. We are no longer the WORLD COP......DO SOMETHING FOR OUR PEOPLE FOR A CHANGE. AND LET THEM GET BACK TO FIGHTING AMONGST THEMSELVES !!!!

CATFISHSTEW
14
Points
CATFISHSTEW 08/23/10 - 10:52 pm
0
0
AND BY THE WAY I'm A DISABLED

AND BY THE WAY I'm A DISABLED VETERAN..1969-1972 YOU KNOW THAT OTHER SO CALLED WAR THAT WE JUST HAD TO BE IN..NO NAME CALLING AGAIN......I KNOW I'LL hear from someone that will dissagree.thats whats so good about this country.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 08/23/10 - 11:45 am
0
0
It is sad when a family

It is sad when a family looses a love one and I realize it takes time to move on with your life but it's troublesome when a 28 year old woman still needs to seek therapy after 7 years. Either she needs a new therapist or maybe if she learn some of the faith her mother has relied on to see her through the most difficult times, she will be able to come to terms with her brother's death.

Evidently he had reservations about going to war, as all soliders do I would assume, but he willing joined the service to serve his country. I don't mean for this to sound harsh but all the self pity and anger, especially 7 years later, seems to be self destructive. Find ways to honor the man instead of consentrating on the negative aspect of his death. Make scrap books or journals of his life so that this young nephew will be able to know his uncle for the positive things he did, instead of just the uncle that was killed in a war.

j2says
3
Points
j2says 08/23/10 - 12:18 pm
0
0
How can you put a timetable

How can you put a timetable on someone elses's grief? Not to mention it is so simple to make these suggestions about what they should do and feel when you are not in this situation. Clearly they are honoring the man's memory, one by being a part of this article. Yes, death is an occupational hazard of all soldiers. However, most men in their early 20s don't exactly think about that when enlisting (most people in their 20s think they are invinvible, anyway).

Riverrunner30909
149
Points
Riverrunner30909 08/23/10 - 01:03 pm
0
0
JohnRandolphHardisonCain I
Unpublished

JohnRandolphHardisonCain I just pray that I would never have a person such as you as a friend. Sounds like all I only be Highlighted by a Yellow Stripe if I ever needed to call up you in a time of need or battle. Bush was correct they have the information needed to call war, our knowledge is only whining hear say, and it is sad that people try to use that as a reason not to go to war. So take your flower growing pedaling self and get surrounded by the other pacifists but do not expect a good person to do for you.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 08/23/10 - 01:09 pm
0
0
catfish you...you....vietnam

catfish you...you....vietnam veteran you -- sorry, just had to name call (in a positive light) you seemed so worried about it. That's the best I could do. ha-ha.

I tend to agree with you. We need to finish things up there as of yesterday, bring our boys home and fight the war within our own border (the war on illegal immigration). Put up the wall and use the troops to help at the Southern border -- though it might not be much safer for them, at least they'll be on American soil.

You pointed out that we can no longer be the world's cops. That is true. We can also no longer be the world's humanitiarian. Charity begins at home and we are so screwed up we need to give to ourselves first for a change. Let everyone else fend for themselves for a while. They hate us anyway, so why do we send billions annually in aid to other nations?

burninater
9921
Points
burninater 08/23/10 - 04:16 pm
0
0
Chillen -- They hate us

Chillen -- They hate us anyway, so why do we send billions annually in aid to other nations?

1) National defense
2) Tax-payer-funded market development
3) Tax-payer-financed protection of investment

CATFISHSTEW
14
Points
CATFISHSTEW 08/23/10 - 04:58 pm
0
0
burnirator....Hope that was

burnirator....Hope that was sarcasum.. if not it is BS. I don't think 1,2,3apply to Iraq or Afiganistan.. Maybe some where in the world...
but not these blood sucking- stab you in the back Governments And if we are to invest in 2 big piles of rocks we can do that here...The Arizona
Desert comes to mind for me. The only investments I care about are our
sons and daughters..not to be wasted, on some stuff shirts wishes!!

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 08/23/10 - 05:11 pm
0
0
j2say, I'm not putting a time

j2say, I'm not putting a time table on grief, just saying after 7 years, that's a long time to carry around all that anger and it doesn't help. There is a time to grieve and then we must move on or else we spend a miserable unproductive life. Yes, I feel for her and can not imagine loosing a sibling but she has a small child that needs her total focus and what better way to honor your brother than to pass on his legacy to your child.

Driver8
0
Points
Driver8 08/23/10 - 06:50 pm
0
0
Can someone tell me exactly

Can someone tell me exactly what we accomplished in Iraq? I agree with CatfishStew-- we could have secured our borders instead. I hope someone will post and tell me why it was a good idea to go into Iraq. Here's one point, though-- it will a long, long time before the U.S. has the arrogance (and thinks it is rich and powerful enough) to go starting wars with countries that never attacked us. Iraq humbled us, and it broke us financially... so my question remains, what for?

Driver8
0
Points
Driver8 08/23/10 - 07:10 pm
0
0
Catfishstew, thank you for

Catfishstew, thank you for your service. You did it for us, and we will never be able to repay you.

Riverrunner30909
149
Points
Riverrunner30909 08/23/10 - 08:15 pm
0
0
War is like hunting gold.
Unpublished

War is like hunting gold. The President calls for war on the avail information that they have at the time. Sorta like looking for that Gold, you hunt in a place that you have heard, or that you think will be a place GOLD should be. Amazing it is always there. Bush did not go to war just for the hell of it, I do not care what you believe, I was sitting on the Selective Service Board during a lot of that time and actually sat in on two conferences with President Bush during that time while we were in Iraq.

CATFISHSTEW
14
Points
CATFISHSTEW 08/23/10 - 11:04 pm
0
0
AC I can't Believe you pulled

AC I can't Believe you pulled my post,,,it was on subject and not offencive . I was only stating facts that were in rebuttal to someones post. this subject needs to be disscussed more...you run this again and you will see more people do not like these wars and comments like the
one above. It's a tragaty for some one to compare a war to the likes of
hunting for gold. that poster is just plain wrong. Just too bad you did not see it that way. and thats all I have to say about that...

CATFISHSTEW
14
Points
CATFISHSTEW 08/23/10 - 11:05 pm
0
0
FOOLS GOLD !!!!! That was

FOOLS GOLD !!!!! That was your intel.... way to go MR I sat in on two conferences. You both got it wrong...I hope you can live with yourselves,with all of the proud men and weman you sent to die. Oh.all.because they said, that theres gold in them hills.

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