Downtown mural to honor Lubbock fallen soldier
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) – A Lubbock mom is still looking for answers a year and a half after her son’s death. Caleb Grant “Smitty” Smithers grew up in Wolfforth and graduated from Frenship high, before heading off to defend our nation. His mom, Heather Baker, says the 19-year-old paratrooper died on a battlefield she didn’t expect, one no one knew existed.
“He was funny, he was passionate, and he was eager to serve his country and he was eager to die for his country,” Baker said.
Pvt. 2nd Class Caleb Smithers moved up to airborne in less than a year. After seven weeks and four days at Fort Bragg, he was found dead in his barracks room in January of 2020. According to an army criminal investigation division report, he died of bacterial meningitis. Baker thinks there’s more to the story, calling it negligent homicide and medical malpractice.
“I can’t bring Caleb back, but maybe we can just save a few more, and that’s my mission,” Baker said.
Baker and THT designs are honoring Caleb at the Auto Glass Company downtown and hope to bring awareness to noncombat deaths. She wants the mural to inspire young people to have a spirit of patriotism, like Caleb did. It should be ready just in time for Independence Day.
“And our soldiers they don’t even get to have the freedoms that they fight for. And so, I want to bring my voice to the table and say ‘I’m here to fight for you,’ and ‘hey, if something happens to you, I got your momma’s back,’” Baker said.
Baker is working with her attorneys to request documents regarding Caleb’s death and says she’s received support from Congressman Jodey Arrington.
“I also am just asking for support from my community,” Baker said.
Baker says the mural will feature two of the local patriot’s favorite phrases, “dreams don’t work unless you do” and “victory loves preparation.” In the Eagle Batallion, Caleb was preparing to soar.
“He never got to jump over Fort Bragg, but he sure wanted to,” Baker said.
The mural’s located at 19th St. and Texas Ave., and Baker wants everyone to go see them Saturday while they’re painting to hear more about Caleb’s story.
There’s also a GoFundMe to help pay the artists and maintain the mural.
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