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Honoring Heroism: Marine posthumously awarded for final heroic act

By Pamela Jackson | Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany | December 12, 2018


Two years following his death, during a ceremony at the Georgia Southwestern University School of Nursing in Americus, Ga., Dec. 7, Lance Cpl. Nicholas R. Smarr was posthumously awarded the Navy Marine Corps Medal. 


Smarr, an officer with the Americus Police Department and a Marine Corps Reservist, was shot alongside his best friend, Officer Jody Smith, Dec. 7, 2016.


According to the citation, “The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy and Marine Corps Medal to Lance Corporal Nicholas R. Smarr, United States Marine Corps Reserve, for service set forth in the following citation. For heroism while serving as a police officer with the Americus, Georgia Police Department…after being dispatched to a domestic disturbance call, Lance Corporal Smarr and his best friend, Officer Jody Smith, gave chase to a known criminal suspect.  Both officers were shot in the head during an ensuing ambush. Although mortally wounded, body camera footage shows that Lance Corporal Smarr crawled to Officer Smith and administered first aid until he could no longer do so.  With a severed artery on the left side of his neck and as he was bleeding profusely, he refused to administer what could have been his own lifesaving treatment.


“Instead, he selflessly performed chest compressions and gave mouth to mouth breathing until he finally succumbed to his wounds.  Although Officer Smith too eventually died, Lance Corporal Smarr’s actions have been credited with keeping him alive long enough for his organs to be donated.  By this courageous and selfless actions in the face of great personal risk, Lance Corporal Smarr reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”


Mark Scott, police chief, Americus Police Department said Smarr was the kind of guy who always had a smile on his face and if you were having a bad day, you wouldn’t have one for very long. 


“He was the kind of officer you knew you could depend on,” he said.


The award was accepted by Smarr’s mother, Janice Smarr, who said she had her cry that morning and was ready to honor her son and Jody.


“Two years has flown by and we are preparing for our third Christmas without him, but we are making it day by day,” she said.  “We have our times when we cry and cry.  It’s just an honor to receive this award for him and see so many of the same people here today. I’m so proud of him.”