Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
__Kratos__

Bush To Present Medal Of Honor

10 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

WASHINGTON - Outnumbered and exposed, Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith stayed at his gun, beating back an advancing Iraqi force until a bullet took his life.

Smith is credited with protecting the lives of scores of lightly armed American soldiers who were beyond his position in the battle, on April 4, 2003, near the gates of Baghdad International Airport.

On Monday, exactly two years after his death, President Bush is awarding Smith the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor, and presenting it to his widow, Birgit, daughter and son.

It is only the third Medal of Honor given for actions since the Vietnam War, and the first from the Iraq war.

Smith, 33, was the senior sergeant in a platoon of engineers during the 3rd Infantry Division's northward sprint toward Baghdad.

By the morning of April 4, elements of the division had reached Baghdad and captured Baghdad International Airport, a key objective. Encircled Iraqi militiamen and Special Republican Guard forces inside launched counterattacks.

Near the eastern edge of the airport, Smith, a veteran of the first Gulf War, had been put in charge of his unit - 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, 11th Engineer Battalion - while his lieutenant went on a scouting mission.

Smith's mission was mundane enough - turn a courtyard into a holding pen for Iraqi prisoners of war. The courtyard, just north of the main road between Baghdad and the airport, was near an Iraqi military compound.

Soon after Smith and some of his platoon began work, records show, one trooper spotted dozens of armed Iraqis approaching from beyond the gated walls of the courtyard. Another group of Iraqis occupied a nearby tower.

Smith summoned a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and he and his troops gathered near the courtyard gate to fight the counterattack. An M113 armored personnel carrier joined the fray.

The Iraqis, perhaps as many as 100, attacked with rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, or RPGs. Smith threw a grenade over a wall to drive back some of the Iraqis, then fired a rocket.

Incoming RPGs battered the Bradley, which retreated. Then a mortar struck the M113, wounding the three soldiers inside and leaving its heavy machine gun unmanned. After directing another soldier to pull the wounded M113 crewmen to safety, Smith climbed into the machine gun position and began firing at the tower and at the Iraqis trying to rush the compound.

His upper torso and head were exposed as he manned the gun.

"This wasn't a John Wayne move," said Command Sgt. Maj. Gary J. Coker, the top enlisted man in the 11th Battalion, who was near the battle. "He was very methodical. He knew he had the gate and he wasn't going to leave it and nobody was going to make him leave it."

Still, Coker said, "it was absolutely amazing to stand up in that volume of fire."

During a stretch of 15 minutes or longer, Smith fired more than 300 rounds as Pvt. Michael Seaman, protected inside the M113, passed him ammunition.

Then he was struck by enemy fire and mortally wounded. At almost the same time, 1st Sgt. Timothy Campbell ended the threat from the tower with a grenade, and the surviving Iraqis withdrew. Medics tried to save Smith, and he died about 30 minutes later.

He and his comrades are credited with killing between 20 and 50 Iraqi soldiers.

Beyond his position were American medics, scouts, a mortar unit and a command post - all lightly armed and vulnerable.

"Sgt. 1st Class Smith's actions saved the lives of at least 100 soldiers," according to an Army narrative.

Smith was born in El Paso, Texas, and moved to Tampa, Fla., when he was 9. He enlisted in the Army in 1989.

He was known for being tough on the men under his command, Coker, who has returned to Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division, said in a weekend telephone interview.

But Smith held himself to the same standard, Coker said, and he took care of his young soldiers when they needed it. Back in the United States, when one private's wife fell seriously ill, Smith drove four hours to bring toys to their children.

The other two post-Vietnam Medals of Honor went to Army Master Sgt. Gary I. Gordon and Army Sgt. 1st Class Randall D. Shughart, two Delta Force troopers who died defending the crew of a helicopter that was shot down in Mogadishu, Somalia, in events depicted in the book and movie "Black Hawk Down."

More than 3,400 Medals of Honor have been awarded since the decoration was created in 1861, of which more than 600 have been given posthumously.

Military officials rigorously review any nomination for the medal in a process that can last 18 months or more. Only about 840 have been given since World War II, when the requirements were made more stringent.

Source

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I am so very thankful for Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith. He sacrificed his life to save so many other soldiers. He died with honor. I am very glad he will be awarded the Medal of Honor, he earned it. thumbsup.gif

Thank You Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith! R.I.P.

To watch a flash version of the day that took this brave soldiers life click this link: Flash Presentation

Edited by __Kratos__

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I watched Bush present the Medal to his family, his wife, son and daughter. It was quite moving. Sgt Smith definately deserved the highest possible award givable by the President of the United States for what he did. Hundreds of soldiers are alive today for his brave actions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a soldier like that does diserve the highest medal that can be given.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Aye, I watched it today as well. Was very moving.

Edited by Boff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What a great man. I only hope that one day I'll be anywhere near this brave.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow.

I think that giving your life in defense of your fellow soldiers is about the most honorable thing that a man can do.

When I was going through Basic training in South Carolina the company took the day to go to the base museum.

On of the things that struck me was that there was a hallway filled with photos over plaques describing each of the situations leading up to the action that warranted the Medal of Honor.

Each picture was an artist rendering of the combat scene; the plaque below it had just a few paragraphs about who the person was and what the story was behind the Medal of Honor they received.

One stuck in my mind, as it happened to be awarded to a 18 year old kid who died on the day I was born.

I stood in front of the story for half an hour trying to go over in my head what could possibly give a person enough courage to do the things that they did to deserve the medal. I wondered if I had it in me to do something like that...

The kid that died on my birthday had an incredible story. He was from the midwest, and left high school early to enlist as he felt it was his duty.

He was sent on a patrol ahead of an entire company of soldiers changing positions. His patrol came under fire from hundreds of enemy forces; as they were just ahead of the oncoming US forces they were afraid that the enemy forces would be able to quickly advance past them and make their way to the US company that was unaware of what was going on. They were unable to get radio reception and knew that the only chance was to get word on foot back to the company commander to let them know what was going on.

Patrols generally have less than 10 people in them; they are meant to be quiet and quick, they are not a formidable force. Knowing that the only chance was to put up 15 minutes of hardcore cover fire to allow his fellow troops enough time to escape into a covered area; the 18 year old VOLUNTEERED to stay behind with the remainder of the ammo and grenades to put up the best fight he could from his position. The rest of the patrol game him their ammo, and then started running.

The 18 year old kid fought like mad for over 20 minutes keeping the enemy from advancing; long enough for the rest of the patrol to be able to get to safety and warn the oncoming US company of the danger ahead.

The story on the brass plaque was directly from the kids best friend who was on the patrol with him. As the patrol finally made it to cover they looked back to see what was going on with their friend who had given up his own life in order to save his friends...

The bottom line on the plaque reads:

The private was last seen in hand to hand combat with the enemy company of over 200 soldiers.

The Medal of Honor was obviousely bestowed upon him posthumousely.

I will never forget that story or the feeling that I got reading it; it changed my life in that I had never known that there were so many people in this world that were willing sacrifice their own lives in order to save others.

Regardless of whether it is a war(That you may or may not believe in), or going out of your way to help someone who just han an auto accident, protecting someone who can't protect themselves, or running into a burning building to help save someone who needs help, I find that level of self sacrifice and dedication incredibly powerful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is a list of the folks that had been awarded the MOH. I would recommend that anyone who is interested take a look around the site to see the individual stories that led up to the award; I think you will be stunned.

Medal of Honor Recipients

Here is just one example:

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company C, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry. Place and date: Kontum Province Republic of Vietnam, 20 May 1967.

Entered service at: Oakland, Calif. Born: 4 December 1941, Janesville, Wis.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.

Acting as a fire team leader with Company C, during combat operations Pfc. Bellrichard was with 4 fellow soldiers in a foxhole on their unit's perimeter when the position came under a massive enemy attack. Following a 30-minute mortar barrage, the enemy launched a strong ground assault. Pfc. Bellrichard rose in face of a group of charging enemy soldiers and threw hand grenades into their midst, eliminating several of the foe and forcing the remainder to withdraw.

Failing in their initial attack, the enemy repeated the mortar and rocket bombardment of the friendly perimeter, then once again charged against the defenders in a concerted effort to overrun the position. Pfc. Bellrichard resumed throwing hand grenades at the onrushing attackers.

As he was about to hurl a grenade, a mortar round exploded just in front of his position, knocking him into the foxhole and causing him to lose his grip on the already armed grenade. Recovering instantly, Pfc. Bellrichard recognized the threat to the lives of his 4 comrades and threw himself upon the grenade, shielding his companions from the blast that followed. Although severely wounded, Pfc. Bellrichard struggled into an upright position in the foxhole and fired his rifle at the enemy until he succumbed to his wounds.

His selfless heroism contributed greatly to the successful defense of the position, and he was directly responsible for saving the lives of several of his comrades. His acts are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, that was a great site Fluffy. Full of outstanding men and their stories. thumbsup.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I just wanted to bring this comment Fluffy made up again.

Regardless of whether it is a war(That you may or may not believe in), or going out of your way to help someone who just han an auto accident, protecting someone who can't protect themselves, or running into a burning building to help save someone who needs help, I find that level of self sacrifice and dedication incredibly powerful.

I'm sure in situations like the one of the 18 year old boy, it is not a matter of the War but a matter of survival. So I agree, wether you support a war or not you still have to respect those who are out to survive it.

Edited by Kismit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The kid that died on my birthday had an incredible story. He was from the midwest, and left high school early to enlist as he felt it was his duty.

He was sent on a patrol ahead of an entire company of soldiers changing positions. His patrol came under fire from hundreds of enemy forces; as they were just ahead of the oncoming US forces they were afraid that the enemy forces would be able to quickly advance past them and make their way to the US company that was unaware of what was going on. They were unable to get radio reception and knew that the only chance was to get word on foot back to the company commander to let them know what was going on.

Patrols generally have less than 10 people in them; they are meant to be quiet and quick, they are not a formidable force. Knowing that the only chance was to put up 15 minutes of hardcore cover fire to allow his fellow troops enough time to escape into a covered area; the 18 year old VOLUNTEERED to stay behind with the remainder of the ammo and grenades to put up the best fight he could from his position. The rest of the patrol game him their ammo, and then started running.

The 18 year old kid fought like mad for over 20 minutes keeping the enemy from advancing; long enough for the rest of the patrol to be able to get to safety and warn the oncoming US company of the danger ahead.

The story on the brass plaque was directly from the kids best friend who was on the patrol with him. As the patrol finally made it to cover they looked back to see what was going on with their friend who had given up his own life in order to save his friends...

The bottom line on the plaque reads:

The private was last seen in hand to hand combat with the enemy company of over 200 soldiers.

The Medal of Honor was obviousely bestowed upon him posthumousely.

That is one heck of a way to go out. Got a little emo when I read that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.