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Online gamers help raise over $100k for IT officer slain in Benghazi attack

(CBS News) To those who worked with him in the State Department, Sean Smith was a talented foreign services officer who died too soon in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi two weeks ago.

An entire online gaming community, however, also knew the Air Force veteran as "Vile Rat," a passionate gamer and intergalactic diplomat. That community is spreading the word of an online charity to support the family he left behind.

More than $100,000 was raised in two days by the fundraiser on, organized and passed along by friends on EVE Online, a multiplayer role-playing game, and the Something Awful web forums. With 66 days left to go, it has far surpassed its initial goal of $50,000.

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This undated publicity image provided by CCP Games shows Sean Smith's computer-generated avatar portrait as "Vile Rat," from the game "EVE Online."
This undated publicity image provided by CCP Games shows Sean Smith's computer-generated avatar portrait as "Vile Rat," from the game "EVE Online." AP Photo/CCP Games

"His intelligence, patience and good humor were the cornerstones of Sean's life and those traits moved everyone he came in contact with," wrote Zack Parsons, who is listed as the charity's main organizer. "Sean was a devoted husband to his wife and he was a proud parent of two children."

Smith spent 10 years as an information management officer in the State Department and was posted at The Hague. He was on a temporary assignment in Libya when still-unidentified assailants attacked the U.S Consulate in Benghazi on September 11. Smith, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and two former Navy SEALs were also killed in the assault.

When his body was brought back to the United States, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke of his expertise in gaming and the influence he had across the web.

"Sean leaves behind ... scores of grieving families, friends and colleagues," Clinton said. "And that's just in this world. Because online, in the virtual worlds that Sean helped create, he is also being mourned by countless competitors, collaborators and gamers who shared his passion."


(Watch a special report on the ceremony, including Clinton's comments about Smith and the other three victims.)

Among the many contributors to the Smith family charity were gamers who interacted with the computer whiz. A fellow gamer named Mike Gearhart recalled how Smith was "one of the most honorable people I ever knew."

"For 5 years, I watched and appreciated every second of Sean's work in Eve," Gearhart wrote on the charity site. "Key. Instrumental. I can't even describe his importance in our rise as Goons. As a person, he was wonderful, charming, humble."

The fundraising site says the money will be given to Smith's wife, Heather. In addition to helping with immediate expenses, the website says funds will also go towards his children's college expenses.

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