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The first scholarship award honoring Sgt. David J. Smith was presented to East Carolina University student Christopher Morgan during a ceremony April 13. Smith was killed in Afghanistan in 2010 after he put his studies on hold for deployment. Pictured above, College of Technology and Computer Science Dean David White stands by while Morgan receives a hug from Smith's mother Mary McWilliams. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

ECU junior earns scholarship honoring fallen Marine

April 13, 2012

By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

East Carolina University honored a fallen Marine and proud Pirate on April 13 by awarding the first scholarship given in his memory.

Sgt. David J. Smith enrolled at ECU in 2003 after enlisting with the Marine Corps Reserves. The Maryland resident majored in industrial distribution and logistics in the College of Technology and Computer Science, but put his studies on hold twice – once for a tour in Iraq in 2006 and again in 2009 when his unit was called to Afghanistan.

Smith died Jan. 26, 2010, after falling victim to a suicide bomb attack in Helmand province. He was 25.
A commemorative coin honoring David J. Smith was presented along with the scholarship.
“We lost one of our own in Afghanistan,” Dean David White said at the Robert E. and Betty S. Hill Recognition of Excellence Awards Breakfast. “He brought light to everybody around him.”

Christopher Morgan, a junior design major from Virginia, is the first recipient of the David J. Smith Leadership award. The honor comes with $1,000 and a commemorative coin created in Smith’s memory, emblazoned with three stars.

“David Smith personified all that is right about this nation,” said Steve Duncan, assistant vice chancellor for administration and finance and military programs. “Use this support to continue to build the better world that David sacrificed for.”

The award is based on three criteria administrators say Smith exemplified: leadership, integrity and service. Morgan is currently juggling 18 credit hours, works more than 20 hours weekly in the dean’s office and heads or participates in several organizations including the American Design and Drafting Association, the Dean’s Student Leadership Advisory Council and the Bachelor of Science in Design Advisory Board.

ECU student Christopher Morgan is the first recipient of the David J. Smith Leadership Award.
“He is one fellow who is always willing to lend a helping hand,” White said of Morgan. “He always has a smile on his face.”

The room fell silent as attendees viewed a slideshow of photos from Smith’s years ECU. Wiping away tears, his family thanked the university and congratulated Morgan on the award.

“We were embraced by so many of you (after David’s death),” said Smith’s mother, Mary McWilliams. “I saw then why David loved this school, this state and why he wanted to make his life here.”

“(David) joined the Marines because he felt he needed to do service for his country,” said his father, Leonard Smith, “And he paid the ultimate sacrifice for it.”

“The first recipient?” he continued. “You couldn’t have picked a better one.”

“I’m proud to represent the college as well as David,” Morgan said, “It’s truly an honor. I wish I could have met him.”

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