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South Georgia Marine on stand by

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March 23, 2003

Andersonville-- David Smith is on stand-by to return to Iraq. Until then, he's watching over the Andersonville Snack Shack that he opened a couple of years ago.

While spending his spare time with his kids, Amber and Bryan, he's also worrying about what the world thinks about work in Iraq, work that he's done with his own hands.

"And you see the people and they thank you for being there and they tell you you're their angel and you've saved their lives, then it really makes a difference," said Smith, a Staff Sergeant with the U.S. Marine Reserves. "It makes you want to go back."

When he does go back, his job is a difficult one. As part of a Mortuary Assistance Team, he recovers the bodies of Marines and helps to make sure their remains make it back to their families.

"It's one of the hardest jobs I've ever done," he said. "We're a team of one. And you feel like your brothers with all of them."

His job is to face death whenever it comes. But what he sees on that journey makes him support his mission more, sights like the inside of training camps decorated with pictures about destroying America and hating Americans.

"There was a painting on the wall of the world trade centers and smoke rising from the buildings. When we walked in, my fellow Marines looked at me and said, 'Staff Sergeant, it's worth being over here when we see this.'"

To Smith, it's worth it to go back. So with his pack loaded and ready, he's standing by, waiting on the call that will return him to a difficult job, giving peace to fallen troops and hope to people in need.

posted at 10:10 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com

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