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September 11 Memorial: Remembering the victims who died at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania

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(Retired) Lt. Col. Gary F. Smith

Age: 55

Hometown: Alexandria, Va., USA

Occupation: Civilian employee, U.S. Army

Location: Ground, Pentagon

"Gary loved sports so much--all through his youth, and far into adulthood. He coached so many teams, including our daughters', both when we lived overseas and here at home. He went to all the local games at West Potomac High School. He kept time for the track team. He was so involved, and just cherished those moments. The baseball glove is very battered, but he just taped it up. He was thrifty, as well as a sportsman. He cherished his Soldier's Medal, which he received for heroism. A helicopter he was riding in in Vietnam crashed and caught fire. He went back to the wreck, and despite the intense heat and danger of explosion, rescued another soldier trapped inside. It was so much him. He loved serving his country." --Ann Smith, wife

Profile:

His touch when he coached youth soccer was magical, parents and players said.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Gary Smith, who was at a meeting at the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 struck, had a rare calm and wisdom on the sidelines.

"He was just the sort of soccer coach you dream about having for your kid," said Del. Kristen J. Amundson (D-Fairfax), whose daughter played on Smith's team. "He was funny and patient and kind."

A man in uniform should have looked intimidating to a bunch of 12-year-old girls, said Amundson's daughter, Sara Conrath, now a college senior, but he didn't.

"He had this really calming voice," she said. "He never yelled at us."

Longtime friend Christine Lamb said Smith always asked about her family, even the family members he rarely saw.

"That's just the way Gary was," she said. "He'd always find sort of a silver lining within what was happening."

A close neighbor to the Smiths in the Waynewood section of Fairfax said her husband and Smith, 55, routinely attended local high school football games on Friday nights. The tradition went on for years.

The neighbor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the family had been inundated with company since Tuesday. "Everybody loved him," she said.

A sign on the Smith's door yesterday asked friends to respect the family's need to rest. Smith, who is listed as unaccounted for, has a wife, Ann, four daughters and two sons-in-law.

-- Ann O'Hanlon

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Source: The Washington Post, AP and washingtonpost.com

The profiles in this feature were written in the months following Sept. 11, 2001.

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Timeline

A day after the 9/11 attacks a makeshift memorial was created on the Arlington Memorial Cemetery fence. Seven years later, the first 9/11 memorial is opening.

Related Coverage:

3-Dimensional Virtual Memorial

Victims Remembered in Maryland

One Family's Loss

Stepping Through the Ashes

Pentagon Under Attack

Five Year Anniversary Coverage


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