Bakersfield veteran dies during training mission in Okinawa, Japan

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - 23ABC has learned that a local airman who sacrificed his life for our nation is one of Bakersfield's hometown heroes.

Air Force Tech Sergeant Mark A. Smith was known for his valor while serving two tours in Afghanistan, but it was a routine training mission that proved too dangerous for the 30-year-old.

A picture captures the decorated flight engineer at the pinnacle of his career. Smith was in an HH-60 Helicopter dodging rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns as his crew rescued a wounded soldier in Eastern Afghanistan April 13, 2012. Smith was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal for his role in this mission.

Officials said the para-rescue veteran was killed last week during a routine training mission.

Three other airmen aboard the HH 60-G Hawk Helicopter were injured during the exercise at Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan.

Smith joined the Air Force right out of High School in July 2000.

Smith is survived by his wife and two daughters.

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