Easygoing, cheerful, and unflappable. Loyal, intelligent and kind. These are the attributes that Private Nathan Smith was known for as a child, and remembered for as a soldier.

Nathan was born in Ostrea Lake, NS, and grew up on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia. As a little boy he would play with toy soldiers and run through the woods, pretending to avoid enemy fire. He loved reading anything about the military. At the same time, Nathan’s manner was calm, he was easy to please at home, and was well-liked at school. He never complained, never spoke poorly of anyone, and stood up for his friends when challenged. He was non-judgmental and respected everyone, no matter their station. He once befriended a homeless man whom he passed on the street every day, bringing him tea and treats, taking the time to chat and taking him to dinner.

Although he enjoyed running, Nathan did not otherwise actively pursue sports. Instead, he would relax by playing Dungeons and Dragons on his Commodore 64, and the guitar in his basement band. He excelled academically and graduated from Eastern Shore District High (ESDH) in Musquodoboit Harbour, NS in 1993.

Nathan had many friends due to his great sense of humour and cool demeanour. Once, a few friends decided they would try everything they could think of to make Nathan lose his temper. After three days of unsuccessful attempts, they gave up.

Nathan held a few jobs after high school and then took a commercial diving course at Seneca College in Newmarket, ON, graduating in 1997. He enlisted in the Canadian Forces in September 1998, claiming he joined so he “could wear that kilt,” but in doing so fulfilling his boyhood dream of becoming a soldier and his childhood penchant for helping others.

After completing Battle School, Nathan was posted to 3 PPCLI in May 1999. He was deployed with his unit to Bosnia-Herzegovina as a rifleman with Operation Palladium in 2000. Upon his return, Pte. Smith completed the Basic Parachutist Course in 2001, thereby conquering his innate fear of heights, and commencing a career he loved, jumping out of planes for a living.

Pte. Smith loved his work. He was destined to be a career soldier, and was engaged to be married, when after six months in Kandahar with Operation Enduring Freedom, he perished in a friendly-fire incident. Camp Nathan Smith, a military base in Afghanistan, is named after him.

By Jeananne Kathol Kirwin

Portrait by Cindy Revell