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Years after his death, Marine finally honored for his decade of service

A Marine color guard member ceremoniously presents an American Flag to Kathy Templeton during interment ceremonies held May 233 in honor of her father Wayne Smith, a Marine Staff Sergeant who died about seven years ago.

A Marine color guard member ceremoniously presents an American Flag to Kathy Templeton during interment ceremonies held May 233 in honor of her father Wayne Smith, a Marine Staff Sergeant who died about seven years ago. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Pierce and DiResta contacted the Marine Corps in Washington D.C., obtained Smith’s Smith’s meritorious record, and Marine Corps officials arranged for interment in the National Cemetery, and for the Marine honor guard to participate in the services. Pierce also negotiated for his ashes to be released.

While Templeton praised Pierce, his Legion Post, area funeral director John Alexander and DiResta for their combined efforts, Pierce said he and others accomplished what they did as a matter of duty to a fellow soldier who deserved the honors.

“Wayne Smith served a total of 10 years in the Marines — including three tours in Vietnam in four years — and we’re glad that now his grandkids can be really proud of his service,” Pierce said.

Wayne B. Smith was born in Bakers Mills, on his family’s farm in 1946. Smith enlisted in the U.S. Marines in January 1964, serving until June 1970. He re-enlisted in the Marines in November 1973, serving until late December 1977, incurring wounds along the way. When he returned to northern Warren County, he worked various construction jobs, including building ski lifts at Gore Mountain. He also worked at various mills in the region. Smith retired around 2000, and spent later years concentrating on hobbies including collecting gems and gardening.

But his passion was outdoor sports including fishing and hunting, said Templeton as well as Smith’s best friend Joey Helms Sr., who also served in Vietnam. Helms worked construction jobs with Smith, and the two enjoyed fishing trips together.

“Wayne could out-work two men,” Helms recalled. “Wayne was fun to be around — he was a great all-around guy.”

U.S. Navy Commander Paul Maroun drove hours from Tupper Lake to Smith’s memorial service May 23 to pay respects on behalf of state Sen. Betty Little and other area legislators. As the ceremony concluded, he shared his thoughts on why he felt it was so important for him to attend.

“We want to honor our brothers and sisters who have fought in places others wouldn’t want to go, doing things we wouldn’t want to do,” Maroun said.

(Note: Kathy Templeton is the Thurman correspondent for the Adirondack Journal.)

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