1/23 Marine goes to great lengths to return wedding ring to widow


Navy Hospitalman Benjamin Rast, left, and Marine Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith were reportedly killed in April by an errant Hellfire missile. (AP Photo)

There are no easy ways to explain the individual tragedies of war.

We all got a reminder of that this weekend as the Houston Chronicle published a touching story about members of 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines, out of Houston, returning the wedding ring of a fallen friend, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith, 26, to his wife.

Rachel Smith, 25, received the keepsake on Saturday from Sgt. Jarred Hammonds, who is credited with rooting through the dirt where Smith died April 6 for a long period of time to find it. Staff Sgt. Smith and Hospitalman Benjamin Rast were reportedly killed by an errant Hellfire missile, so the scene must have been grim.

Rachel described her feelings in the Chronicle story:

On Saturday, Jeremy’s battalion returned home without him. Rachel went to Ellington Field to welcome the men back.

“I’d regret it if I didn’t go,” she said. “I’m ecstatic that they’re home, and I can’t wait to see them because now it’s like I’m going into Jeremy’s shoes and I have to go make sure they’re OK … because he’s not there to do it.”

After everyone else had kissed and hugged and left the airfield, Hammonds and other Marines from her husband’s platoon returned the ring to Rachel in a private ceremony, along with a journal Jeremy kept.

One by one, the men told Rachel what Jeremy meant to them. Everyone wept.

Rachel will wear her husband’s ring on a necklace. “I think I’ll feel better with it being closer to my heart,” she said.


About Author

I'm a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.


  1. This is truly a great story that shows how dedicated Marines are to living up to the semper fidelis motto!! What a great group of people to do this for her and I truly feel for her loss!! I am so sorry that you are going through such an experience right now, but am proud to hear you went in his place! What a great thing to do as the wife of a Marine and an American!! Thank you to all who helped her feel closer to her husband and God Bless!!

  2. Rachel I am soo very happy to hear about this, it is wonderful. You guys are and always will be in mine and Justin’s (Sgt. Shields) hearts. Godbless you and all you are meant to do, you are an amazing woman that brings joy to many!

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