Children of fallen heroes lead teams out at Ibrox

Wed 6th March 2024

Two families of fallen US and British military heroes were hosted by the Rangers Charity Foundation for a two day visit last week as part of a programme supporting military families, culminating in the children leading the teams out at the Rangers v Motherwell game on Saturday 2 March.

The Rangers Charity Foundation has partnered for the second time with Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), a US-based non-profit organisation providing compassionate care and resources for all those grieving the death of a military or veteran loved one. TAPS arranged for the US-based Smith family to visit the UK where they met the Davidson family, arranged via Families’ Activity Breaks (FAB), a partner charity to TAPS. With the support of the Club, the Foundation helped to provide a special experience for both families to celebrate their lost loved ones.

The Foundation organised private museum and stadium tours followed by a dinner in the Blue Sky Lounge where the families were able to connect over their shared experiences.

The following day, the families were then hosted at the match where they had the opportunity to meet some of the players and the youngest children from each family, Michael Smith (aged 12) and Amelia Davidson (aged 11) led out the teams on to the pitch at Ibrox.

Diana Hosford, Vice President – Sports & Entertainment for TAPS commented:

“Coming back to Ibrox was so special. The reception we received for Remembrance in 2022 was incredibly powerful and we were honoured and thrilled to be welcomed back to recognize surviving families from the US and the UK and honour their fallen loved ones.  We are grateful to the Rangers and Rangers Charity Foundation for helping us help grieving military families. The beautiful game created beautiful moments for survivors to connect, to share, and to bond.”

Connal Cochrane, Chief Executive of the Rangers Charity Foundation said:

“The Foundation has a long and proud history of supporting Armed Forces charities, personnel and veterans.

“Following a successful visit for Remembrance Day in November 2022, we were again privileged  to help provide a warm welcome to our friends at TAPS  and I hope that that the visit creates special and healing memories for both the families.”

Soldier Bios

Captain David M Smith

United States Navy Captain David M Smith was born on May 25, 1965, in Easton, PA.  He was raised in Pennsylvania and obtained his commission in May 1987, upon graduation from The Virginia Military Institute with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He was commissioned as a Surface Warfare officer and served on the USS Connole (FF-1056) and the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67). He was stationed at COMNAVSURFLANT in Norfolk, VA, when he was selected for transfer to the Civil Engineer Corps (SEABEES).

David then served at NAS Keflavik, Iceland, as the Assistant Public Works Officer. This was followed by a tour as Charlie Company Commander with NMCB-133 in Gulfport, MS. After obtaining a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering, Captain Smith was stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, LA, as the Resident Officer in Charge of Construction, followed by a tour in Virginia. While he was there, he obtained a second Master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. David then served as the Public Works Officer at NAS Oceana, VA, and while there he volunteered for duty in Iraq. He served as the Water Program Manager for the Project Contracts Office for 6 months in Baghdad.

Upon his return from Iraq, Captain Smith was sent to NAS Jacksonville, FL, as the Assistant Regional Engineer and later as the Operations Officer. While there, he was selected as the Naval Facilities Command Engineer of the Year for 2006 for his work following Hurricane Katrina.

David was then stationed in Washington, D.C., as the Director of Infrastructure in the Joint Guam Program Office. Following this tour, he was selected as the Executive Officer for NAVFACEURAFSWA in Naples, Italy. It was here, on March 17, 2013, that his nearly 26-year military career came to an end.

David was an avid bicycle rider, runner and sports fan and loved woodworking in his spare time. CAPT Smith was married to his wife, Lisa, for nearly 24 years. Together they have 3 children: Malena, 25, Aubrey, 23 and Michael, 12.

Sergeant Lee Davidson

Sergeant Lee Davidson Born on 13 May 1980, Sergeant Davidson lived in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, and started his working life as a pavement resurfacer. He joined the Army in August 1998 and arrived at the Light Dragoons in January 1999. He deployed on operational tours to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan with C Squadron, known as ‘The Legion’.

He was subsequently posted to the Army Foundation College in Harrogate where he flourished as an instructor to Junior Soldiers. He demanded the highest professional standards but always led with the forgiving nature of a father.

He returned to the regiment in 2011, after marrying his wife Samantha, to become a Troop Sergeant in A Squadron. He was a devoted husband to Sam and a doting father to his two boys, Jayden and Jamie and had a daughter, Amelia on the way when he died.

Samantha commented: “Lee loved being a father, it was his dream. He played with the boys, playing football and chasing them around the house and playing tag. When Lee found out he was having a little girl he was the happiest man going. Our family was complete.”

Samantha and Lee were together from 2007 to 2012. They got married in the August of 2011. A year later Lee was killed on 9 September 2012.

His surviving children, Jayden, Jamie and Amelia are now 15, 13 and 11 years old. Jayden, 15, is doing an engineering course at school and wants to join the armed forces (RAF) as an electrical engineer.



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