The Monroe City municipal airport, which is named CPT Ben Smith Airfield, in honor of fallen hometown hero Army Capt. Benedict J. Smith, is in need of repairs and updates. Recent winds broke the flagpole, along with the light and is in need of being replaced.
Dennis Spalding, along with Del Buckman are asking the community to come together in an effort to continue the upkeep and improvements needed to honor Capt. Smith and all of those who have selflessly made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country.
Spalding shared, “Our goal is to have this project completed by Ben’s birthday October 4.” The entire project is estimated to cost approximately $5,000. Spalding shared, “Any extra funds will be used to spruce up the landscaping around the area.”
In a recent City Council meeting on January 9, the City agreed to provide the labor to set the pole and provide the electric for ground lighting. The previous pole had a light on the top of it, Spalding explained, “The light was not very efficient. The ground light will be durable and shine on the flag at night giving honor to our nation’s flag and all those who serve.”
Anyone wanting to help donate to this project can do so by making a donation at Alliant Bank, where an account has been set up for the project. Make donations payable to the Captain Ben Smith Airfield Project account.
Capt. Smith lost his life on November 7, 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter he was in was shot down by unknown enemy ordnance in Tikrit, Iraq. Capt. Smith had been assigned to 101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
On Saturday, October 4, 2008, Smith’s birthday, the Monroe City Airport was renamed CPT Ben Smith Airfield, in honor of his sacrifice. The dedication ceremony included a new sign and flag pole. The day included an estimated crowd of 800 people, numerous aircraft were on display, including a Blackhawk helicopter, two Apache helicopters, a jet, a bi-plane and several speakers who spoke to honor a fallen soldier who was loved by family, friends and all who knew him.