Soldier assigned to Special Forces shot and killed in North Carolina
Stars and Stripes January 20, 2023
A 24-year-old Army cook assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg was found dead from a gunshot wound Wednesday in a town about 20 miles from the North Carolina base, according to Army officials and local police.
Staff Sgt. Jimmy Lee Smith III was found unresponsive at about 10:36 p.m. and pronounced dead by emergency medical services at the scene on Hammock Lane in Raeford, according to the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office.
Officials responded to the location because of “unknown trouble,” the sheriff’s office said a brief statement. Police also said they are investigating the case as a homicide and have identified a person of interest.
“Jimmy was a tremendous teammate and paratrooper,” said Col. John D. Bishop, commander of the 3rd Special Forces Group of the 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne). “He was an outstanding culinary specialist and an absolute asset to 3rd Group. More importantly, he was a great human being. Like all members of 3rd Group, Jimmy and his family will always be part of the ‘The Tribe.’ Our thoughts, prayers and condolences are with his loved ones, friends, and teammates through this incredibly difficult time.”
Smith joined the Army in 2016 and had previously served in the 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, and in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, according to a news release from Special Operations Command. He joined the 3rd Special Forces Group’s support battalion in March 2020.
Smith deployed to Jordan in 2020 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, according to the command.
“Jimmy was more than just an NCO, he was a mentor, a shoulder to cry on, a comedian at times, but most of all a great friend,” Spc. Roenice Todd, a fellow soldier in the battalion, said in a statement. “It was truly an honor to be able to learn from him.”
Staff Sgt. Michael Zapata, a friend, said in a statement that Smith “was the example of what a paratrooper should be and touched the lives of hundreds of other soldiers and paratroopers in the process.”
Smith’s awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters; the Army Achievement Medal with four oak leaf clusters; the Army Good Conduct Medal with one oak leaf cluster; the National Defense Service Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal; the Army Service Ribbon; the Korea Defense Service Medal; the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon; the Overseas Service Ribbon; and the Army Parachutist Badge.