Troy, Il. (KSDK) -- Two and a half years after being killed in combat in Afghanistan, Senior Airman Bradley Smith was awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action Saturday in Troy, Illinois.
"This silver star solidifies what I already knew about my husband and will serve as a reminder to all what a hero brad truly was both in the way he lived and died," says his wife Tiffany.
He died when an IED went off while he was trying to save the life of another airman. He left behind a wife and infant daughter.
"Although I stayed mad at brad for a while, I knew he was just being true to the kind of man he was," Tiffany Smith says.
"He gave his life saving mine. And it's an honor to be able to say I served with him," adds Sr. Airman Mike Malarsie.
Malarsie was blinded in that attack, but he's still active in the Air Force. He was one of the Airmen that walked the Silver Star from Fort Riley Kansas to Troy for the ceremony.
"It gave me an opportunity to kind of pay my respects to Brad because I missed the funeral and everything else that's taken place because of the treatment I was receiving."
The process to get the Silver Star medal approved took from January 2010 when he was killed until recently. Air Force Major General Lawrence Wells says it's a very rare award.
"I've been in 34 years and this is the first one I've presented. We've presented fewer than one about every six months maybe even to a year. So it is quite an honor for him and primarily it's because of what he did in combat on the third of January back in 2010," Wells says.
His family has kept his memory alive. Just minutes after the ceremony, they kicked off the annual 5k to raise money for scholarships in his name. That 5k has raised more than $15,000 for scholarships that are given to children of men and women serving in the armed forces.