Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Soldiers of the 40th Military Police Battalion (Detention) and other Fort Leavenworth personnel gathered together to honor the late Sgt. Jawuan Smoot with a memorial ceremony Dec. 2 at Frontier Chapel.
Smoot was in a two-vehicle collision near U.S. Highway 24-40 and Loring Road between Tonganoxie, Kan., and Lawrence, Kan., Oct. 24 and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Tonganoxie Mirror.
Smoot enlisted into the Army on Aug. 3, 2016. He graduated from Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C., with a military occupational specialty in religious affairs.
His first assignment was to the 100th Brigade Support Battalion, 75th Field Artillery Brigade, in Fort Sill, Okla. After three years, Smoot was assigned to the 40th where he served for less than a week before the accident happened.
“It is unfortunate that I cannot claim to know Sergeant Smoot very well personally … but I can tell you about the kind of person Sergeant Smoot was,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Hofmann, 40th MP Battalion commander. “He was a patriot. He was a man of God. He was our brother, and he was part of our Justice family.”
During the ceremony, attendees listened to stories about Smoot from his former co-workers from the 100th BSB. Capt. Liam Fitzgerald, Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander, U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, read remarks on behalf of Smoot’s former battalion commander Lt. Col. Corey Woods.
Woods wrote that he would sum up Smoot’s character in one word —love.
“That defines how he carried himself in this battalion during his service among us. There is a kind of love that is not romantic,” Woods wrote. “It is not weak, but it is real, and strong and vibrant. Love of truth. Brotherly love. Love for those who need encouragement.
“This is the kind of love Sergeant Smoot conveyed. There is hardly a soldier who knew him who did not see his smile, his positive outlook, his way of making light of a bad situation and motivating others to be better. That is love.”
Woods also described Smoot as professional.
“It was his love for soldiers that inspired him to be so relentless in pursuit of excellence,” Woods wrote. “I watched this soldier, he was a private first class and later specialist at the time, cover down in the chaplain’s office without a chaplain for eight long months. I watched him take care of soldiers, plan events, brief me and the rest of the command staff, and become proficient in more than just his tasks as a religious affairs specialist.
“No one is perfect, but he learned from mistakes and maintained a sense of humor. These experiences forged him into the kind of (noncommissioned officer) at the brigade level who could mentor others to follow in his footsteps.”
Chaplain (Capt.) Caleb Miller, 100th BSB, read remarks on behalf of Chaplain (Capt.) Uche Iheke, who worked with Smoot at Fort Sill.
Iheke wrote that Smoot left an indelible impression on him.
“Sergeant Smoot, put simply, was a profoundly reliable rockstar in presence and mission accomplishment,” Iheke wrote. “He had an indefatigable will to make the good shine out in you. Smoot possessed an unequaled honor and integrity as a person with his contacts and his commitments. He clearly understood the dignity of the human person and would go over and beyond to uphold and defend it. He knew how to reasonably set goals and doggedly pursue and accomplish them in record time. Smoot’s work ethic is simply unrivaled.
“Sergeant Smoot was an all-rounder, a holy man who loved God, his creation and fellow human beings. I call Smoot son and will hold him as such and will miss him until we meet again to part no more.”
Other remarks were made by Staff Sgt. Sherlyan Williams, 100th BSB, who noted Smoot’s passion for music, contagious energy and his positivity; and Spc. Veronica Duran, 100th BSB, who noted the kind of friend and mentor he was to other soldiers and what he did in his spare time to give back to the community.
Following the tributes, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Michael Williams, HHC, USDB, read scripture passages from Psalm 23 and James 4, and offered a meditation.
“As it is with us and was with Sergeant Smoot and all our hopes and possibilities, and as it is in this life — tomorrow is not a guarantee. Tomorrow will come and go with the rising and setting of the sun, and each rising and setting of the sun brings along with it all our hopes and possibilities. Some are realized and some are not realized,” Williams said. “This does not mean that we cease to hope, dream and look forward to the possibilities for the near and far future, but this experience begs us to look to our right and to our left, look into the eyes of the people we see every day. See the person, greet the person, because I believe that every person has hopes and looks for possibilities in the present and for the future, and each person has immeasurable value.
“We rise with the sun and sleep when it sets. We move forward, and moving forward in life with hopes and possibilities, we do not fret the possibility that any one of us may not be here tomorrow,” he said. “We do not worry, but take a lesson from the life of this amazing young man, Jawuan. We could be like him and decide to make each moment in each day count, so we look to our right and to our left and be a minister of hope and encourager of possibilities for each other.”
As the service came to an end, 1st Sgt. Richard Delgado, HHC, USDB, conducted the final roll call. Volleys were fired and taps was played before attendees paid final respects.