Officials Honor Mentor Native Who Died In Iraq
Officials from the city, county and state recognized Sgt. Mark Smykowski for his sacrifice and thanked his family
Officials from the city of Mentor, Lake County and the state of Ohio recognized Sgt. Mark Smykowski and thanked his family for his and their sacrifice during a Mentor City Council meeting Tuesday night.
Smykowski, a native of Mentor, died at the age of 23 after the Hummer in which he rode hit a roadside bomb in June 2006 in the Al Anbar province of Iraq.
In recognition of his sacrifice and service, Route 84 from Broadmoor to Chillicothe Road was renamed in his honor.
The new road signs were unveiled last week and a video of that ceremony was shown Tuesday evening.
Then City Council President Scott Marn, Lake County Commissioner Bob Aufuldish, State Representatives Kenneth Yuko and Ron Young and State Senator John Eklund each talked about Smykowski.
They also thanked his mom, Diana Ross, his dad, Hubert Smykowski, and his brothers Darren and Kenny Smykowski, who were all in attendance.
"Diana, I know every time you drive by that sign, your heart's going to feel a twinge," Yuko said. "And it should."
Eklund commiserated with the Smykowski family. He said that he too had lost a loved one prematurely after a drunken driver crashed into a car in which his brother was driving. But he added that his brother's death was pointless, while Smykowski's sacrifice had purpose.
"Mark's life was purposeful and his death was purposeful," Eklund said. "And we all benefitted from it and grow from it."
Eklund added that everyone could best thank Smykowski by living a life that would "make him as prous of us as we are all of him."
Marn noted that Smykowski was remembered for the kind way he treated the Iraqi children while he was stationed in their country. He would give them toys and they would affectionately call him "Mr. Ski," he said.
Smykowski was part of a group of seven Mentor High graduates who joined the military just before and after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Called the Mentor Seven, they also included Brian Halan, Matthew Neath, Smykowski's younger brother Darren, Neath's younger brother Nathan, Nicholas Psenicnik and Joseph Lorek. All but Lorek had been teammates on the Mentor High hockey team who later honored Mark Smykowski by retiring his jersey.
Smykowski's youngest brother, Kenny, also joined the Marines later.
"It's here the teammates became friends and the friends became a band of brothers," Young said.
Ross thanked everyone for their kind words.
"Hopefully, whoever believes in heaven will get to meet my son one day," she said.