The Fight of His Life….on American Soil
"One day, your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it is worth watching,” that is the signature quote of Gunnery Sergeant Dave Smith who almost lost his life in July. This Marine, this real American hero has seen four combat tours, even surviving an IED blast and being awarded a Bronze Star with Combat V; however, it was when he was safe at home that he almost lost his life. As people celebrated the start of a new year, GySgt Smith reflected on what he hopes for his future now that he has a second chance at life.
On a beautiful sunny day in San Diego, Gunny set out to do what he loves doing, ride his Harley. While stopped at a red light, a car hit him from behind, thrusting him off his motorcycle. What he remembers next is waking up 10 days later in a hospital, unable to walk and suffering from internal decapitation. The driver who hit him was drunk and fled the scene, leaving Gunny for dead. Even asking “is he dead” then gathering up her bumper and driving away. Ironically, it was someone from within his own community, a Marine wife. 21-year old Jessica Bloom had four times the legal limit of alcohol in her blood.
Since the accident, people from around the country have shown drones of support for Gunny’s recovery. A Facebook page was started called “US Marine David Smith Support Page” with close to 3000 supporters , numerous fundraisers have been held, and various media outlets have shared his story. I have followed his story since August; some would say his survival is a miracle, others would say it is the strength embedded in all Marines that pulled him through. Internal decapitation has a 96% fatality rate and the remaining 4% usually end up quadriplegic.
His hardest challenge was learning how to walk again and battling his double vision from traumatic brain injury. Yet, when asked his feelings towards the driver he simply says he feels sorry for her. “I am sad that at such a young age, she has set sail on a path that has defined her for the rest of her life.” Additionally, he has a message for drunk drivers: “Don’t do it; when you choose to drive drunk, it is a selfish decision.”
So what’s next for this Marine who has thrived against all odds? Just weeks after lying in a hospital bed unsure of what his future looked like, he is eager to continue exceling at his job and getting to know his supporters who have stuck by him on this journey. At the end of his honorable service, he looks forward to following in his late father’s footsteps of being a police officer.
At a time when our troops have given so much over 10 years of combat, it is easy to recognize what remarkable men and women we have serving on our front lines. The elite training of the Marine Corps prepares our service members for life threatening situations, and fortunately it helped GySgt Smith in his battle on our own soil. We are grateful to have a Marine of such high caliber still serving amongst our force, and we are eager to see the great things ahead in his second shot at life. Semper Fi Gunny!
About GySgt Smith: Smith went to boot camp aboard MCRD San Diego in July 1994; his MOS was 0352 (Anti-Tank Guided Missileman). After completing the School of Infantry training, he was assigned to 3rd Battalion 4th Marines as a driver and later a gunner. In June 2001, just months before the attacks on 9/11, then Sgt Smith reported to 1st Battalion 4th Marines where he would later deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is currently stationed in San Diego and will retire in April 2014 to pursue a career in law enforcement. It is his 16 years in the Marine Corps that he credits with his survival.