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Pentagon honors Fort Detrick vaccine researcher

FREDERICK — The Pentagon is honoring a scientist at Fort Detrick in Frederick with its top award for career civilian employees.

Spokeswoman Caree Vander Linden says the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award was given Monday to Leonard Smith of the U.S. Army Institute of Infectious Diseases.

She says Smith is an expert on ricin toxin and botulinum (botch-u-LY’-num) neurotoxins, which cause botulism.

VanderLinden says Smith has worked during his more than 30-year career on developing vaccines against those deadly agents.

Smith says the award is tinged with sadness because his son, Marine Sgt. David Smith, was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2010.

The scientist says the sacrifices made by his son and other warfighters inspire him to keep working on defenses against potential biological weapons.