Mackay man's tribute to son who gave his life in Afghanistan
ON THE centenary of the Armistice, Mackay resident Murray Smith was remembering another anniversary - it has been six years since his son, Corporal Scott Smith, was killed in Afghanistan.
At 3am on October 21, 2012, Murray Smith's daughter received the call that her brother had been killed by an improvised explosion device during a mission in Afghanistan's northern Helmand province.
The 24-year-old was on his second tour of Afghanistan and was attached to the second command unit of the Special Operations Engineers Regiment (SOER). The bomb disposal and clearance technician was killed during a raid on a compound believed to be used by insurgents.
For his service during the raid, Corporal Smith was posthumously awarded the Commendation for Gallantry.
He is one of 41 Australian defence personnel killed in Australia's 17-year involvement in Afghanistan.
Mr Smith described his son as "a larrikin ... a typical Aussie boy", who had always wanted to join the Defence Force.
"He never had any other idea for what he was going to do," he said.
For some Australians, Afghanistan has become a 'forgotten war'.
"Not for me it's not," Mr Smith said, adding that his son's death still has a profound effect on the family.
"All these days are hard", he said, at Sunday's Remembrance Day service at Jubilee Park.
"You learn techniques to deal with it. Especially on days like this and Anzac Day and anniversaries."
On the walls of the Tarin Kowt base, in Uruzgan Province in southern Afghanistan, Scott Smith's name was written alongside the names of 114 Australian, Dutch, French and American troops killed in action.
Only a year after the death of his son, Mr Smith visited these walls ahead of the closure of the base at the end of Australia's involvement in Operation Slipper.
Seeing his son's name gave him a "sense of closure", he said.
On the advice of Australian families who visited the Tarin Kowt memorial, Army engineers destroyed the wall and buried the remains in the region. Mr Smith said it was fitting that his son's name would remain in Uruzgan Province.
During the Remembrance Day service, Mr Smith and his wife, Robyn, laid a wreath at the Cenotaph.
He said the centenary of the Armistice gave "a new idea of respect" for those who served in all conflicts.
Mr Smith's father returned home wounded after the 1941 Syrian campaign. His uncle also served.
Having moved to Mackay a few years ago, Mr Smith now runs Gemini M & M Group, a mechanical shop on Endeavour St.