Pennsylvania Firefighter Killed in Iraq

Updated: 08-29-2006 12:31:56 PM

On Monday, a tight-knit local community mourned the loss of a 23-year-old killed fighting for his country.

"We are very proud of this son of ours," said Kim Smith. "He wanted to help people in a variety of ways."

As a teenager, Tristan Smith joined the Bryn Athyn fire company at the age of 16 years old.

The 23 year-old died Sunday in Iraq while on patrol after an improvised device exploded.

His family said Tristan just wanted to help others.

"He was definitely doing what he wanted," said Grant Smith. "He thought about it for years."

His family says he was inspired by the heroic acts of September 11 to do more to help

Smith finished basic training in December 2004 and he has spent the last eight months in Iraq as a weapons specialist.

Smith was on home leave three weeks ago. Friends say he wasn't able to tell them where he was stationed but they knew it was dangerous.

"He gave his life for his country there is no higher honor than that," said Grant Schnarr, Smith's pastor.

Smith was also a local volunteer firefighter.

On Monday, his fellow firefighters tied black bunting above the bay doors at the Bryn Athyn fire department, where the flag flies at half-staff.

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-Firefighter Tristan Smith