Rusten Radford Smith

Rusten Radford Smith was born 7-AUG 1990 in Jacksonville, Florida and was raised in St. James, Missouri. His parents were Rad and Brenda Smith.  He had one sister.  He graduated from John F. Hodge High School in St. James, MO in 2009.  Rusten joined the United States Army in 2012 and served as a Blackhawk Pilot in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) with C. Company, 6th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade (Wings of Destiny). Rusten had multiple deployments including two combat tours to Afghanistan and Europe for Atlantic Resolve.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rusten Radford Smith was killed along with eight other members of the 101st Airborne on 29-MAR 2023 when during a training exercise two HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters collided.

Those killed were:

  • Chief Warrant Officer 2, Zachary Esparza, 36, of St. Louis, Missouri
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2, Rusten Smith, 32, of Rolla, Missouri
  • Warrant Officer 1, Jeffery Barnes, 33, of Milton, Florida
  • Emilie Marie Eve Bolanos, 23, of Austin, Texas
  • Isaac John Gayo, 27, of Los Angeles, California
  • Staff Sgt. Joshua C. Gore, 25, of Morehead City, North Carolina
  • Warrant Officer 1, Aaron Healy, 32, of Cape Coral, Florida
  • Staff Sgt. Taylor Mitchell, 30, of Mountain Brook, Alabamamith
  • Sgt. David Solinas Jr., 23, of Oradell, New Jersey

Rusten is buried at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery at Fort Leonard Wood, in Waynesville, Missouri.  To read more of his story, click on the link below.


Please contact the St. Charles County Veterans Museum Oral History project at or call 636-294-2657 for more information and lets’ talk. We want to hear from you because we know…Every Veteran has a story.