Capt. John E. Smathers
May 4, 1958 – February 4, 2006
From Maryland to Bagdad, those who knew him are mourning an Army Reservist often called a hero for his service in Iraq. Capt. John Smathers was one of the most decorated Army reservists to serve in Iraq.
Smathers was a prominent attorney in Prince George's County. He returned home from a year of duty in Iraq in March of 2004 after surviving a bloody ambush. Smathers escaped the ambush with broken arms and battered knees. He had to undergo seven surgeries once he got home.
The 47-year-old had just returned from reserve duty Saturday and was out with his dogs when he collapsed and died near his home.
Smathers was also prominent as a civil rights attorney. One of his cases received nationwide attention when Smathers tracked down and retrieve his beloved Scout, the dog that became his unit's faithful companion and lookout in Iraq.
Partners at the law practice in Laurel where Smathers worked honored his Iraqi service by turning the reception area into a small museum of sorts.
Clients who came into the office were greeted with framed newspaper articles about the JAG officers work on a quick response team in Iraq. Four bronze stars and two purple hearts are also on display.
Friends and family say they are stunned by the sudden loss. They also said the soldier made a strong impression on so many.
Contributions in John Smathers' honor are being sent to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes fund to aid severely disabled Iraqi veterans.