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Rschoeneck
02-02-2005, 12:56
Hope this is in the right place, if not please feel free to remove.

Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, who spent his boyhood in Tampa, became a man in the Army and died outside Baghdad defending his outnumbered soldiers from an Iraqi attack, will receive America's highest award for bravery.

President Bush will present the Medal of Honor to Smith's wife, Birgit, and their children Jessica, 18, and David, 10, at a ceremony at the White House, possibly in March.

Family got the unofficial call yesterday apparently.


**snip **
April 4, 10:30 a.m.

The GIs in the courtyard and the Iraqis outside had traded gunfire for half an hour. The Bradley fired away, and the battle raged on. Spc. Billy McConnell couldn't believe it when he saw the Bradley back out of the courtyard.

"The dumb sonofabitch," the 27-year-old thought. "Why is he pulling out?"

Without the Bradley, the Americans were in deep trouble. Enemy soldiers held the tower and still fired from it directly into the courtyard. And other Iraqis still fought from ditches about 100 yards to the west and north of the courtyard, launching rocket-propelled grenades and mortars over the walls.

The most powerful American weapon left was the .50-caliber machine gun atop an M113 armored personnel carrier. But the crew - Yetter, Berwald and Hill - had all been wounded. The gun was unmanned.

There was almost no American return fire. Some GIs had left the courtyard, others were helping evacuate Yetter and Berwald.

***

First Sgt. Campbell heard radio reports of wounded Americans. He ran into the courtyard and talked briefly with Smith. "We've got to kill that tower," Campbell said. Then he left to do just that.

Inside the courtyard, what to do next was up to Smith. He reasonably could have ordered everyone to safety through the hole in the wall and followed them out.

His commanding officer now believes Smith rejected that option thinking that if Iraqis overran the courtyard, they would jeopardize about 100 GIs outside. These included the infantry at the highway roadblock, the men of a mortar platoon, medics at an aid station and officers in a command center a few hundred yards down the road.

So Smith climbed on the 113. He tried to back it up, but the trailer kept jackknifing.

"Get me a driver," he yelled.

Pvt. Michael Seaman, 21, ran to help.

"Jump in," Smith said. Seaman backed the 113 to the middle of the courtyard.

Smith climbed into the gunner's hatch. He stood behind the big machine gun, the upper half of his body exposed, the lower half protected by the armored vehicle. He started blasting away.

"Keep me loaded," he shouted to Seaman. Whenever the 100-round ammunition belt that fed the machine gun was about to run out, Seaman reached down for another.

Whenever Smith stopped firing so Seaman could reload, fire from the Iraqis would pick up.

From the hole in the wall, Sgt. Keller could see Smith and waved for him to get out of the courtyard. Word had it that Bradleys were on their way.

Smith motioned back: "No."

"I knew why he wouldn't leave," Keller said. Without Smith's machine gun, "there was no firepower out there."

Keller took off running in search of the Bradley. He came across one up on the road, about 100 yards away, and confronted the men inside. "What are you doing? You need to be out there," Keller said.

The response from one of the Bradley crewmen - something like, "No, there's friendlies out there" - confused Keller.

He ran back to the courtyard, to a scene right out of Hollywood.

Smith was atop the 113 shooting toward the gate, over the wall, at the tower.

"He was firing, firing, firing - reloading - firing, firing, firing," said Sgt. Robert Nowack, 37. "It was like a director saying, "I want you to look intense."'

The sight reminded Pfc. Pace of To Hell and Back, the film about the WWII exploits of Army 2nd Lt. Audie Murphy, who climbed onto a burning tank, manned a .50-caliber machine gun and mowed down dozens of attacking Germans.

Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1945.

***

Seaman loaded the third can of ammo for Smith.

"Good job," Smith said, "now get down."

Seaman dropped into the belly of the 113 and looked through the periscope. All he could see was the wall. Smith's machine gun roared. Seaman stuck his fingers in his ears.

Meanwhile, 1st Sgt. Campbell had run outside the courtyard, grabbed three other GIs and set off along the outer wall of the courtyard toward the Iraqi-occupied tower.

Halfway there, Campbell realized Smith's machine gun had stopped firing. Campbell told the others to halt. Their job would be harder if Smith could not keep up fire on the Iraqis in the tower. Then the gun awakened - Seaman had finished a reload of Smith's .50 - and Campbell and the others continued.

Again the .50 went quiet.

By now, though, Campbell's team had reached the bottom of the tower. Inside, they saw Iraqis dressed in black, wearing berets. The GIs fired into the tower's narrow window. The Iraqis flopped around, blood spraying.

"It was everywhere," Campbell said.

Back in the 113, Seaman also wondered why Smith had stopped firing. He had plenty of ammo.

Then Smith's knees buckled. He slumped inside the vehicle, blood running down the front of his vest. An enemy bullet, probably from the tower, had hit him in the head.

Seaman lifted himself out of the driver's hatch. Tears streaked his blackened cheeks.

"I told him we should just leave," Seaman mumbled. "I told him we should leave."

Pvt. Gary Evans, 28, ran up to help. He jumped on the 113, grabbing the machine gun's hot barrel "like a dumb-ass." Heat seared his hand. Smith would have ripped him good for doing something that stupid.

Evans was pretty sure Smith was dead. But he spoke to him anyway as he drove the 113 out of the courtyard. "You're going to be all right. You'll be okay."

Just outside the courtyard, the 113 stalled. Some men pulled Smith out the back, put him on a stretcher and carried him 75 yards to the aid station.

It was 11 a.m., about an hour since the Iraqis were first spotted.

Campbell's team had taken out the tower. Smith's machine gun had stifled any Iraqi advance on the courtyard. Enemy fire petered out.

The battle for the courtyard was over.

***

QRQ 30
02-02-2005, 13:02
Definitely the correct spot.

Codolences as well as congratulations to his family.

ghuinness
02-02-2005, 19:30
Multimedia presentation (http://www.sptimes.com/2004/webspecials04/medalofhonor/default.shtml). SFC Smith, Thank You for your service to this Nation.

Radar Rider
02-02-2005, 19:39
Multimedia presentation (http://www.sptimes.com/2004/webspecials04/medalofhonor/default.shtml). SFC Smith, Thank You for your service to this Nation.
An excellent tribute to a true hero.

May God Bless SFC Smith and His Family.

Gypsy
02-02-2005, 20:20
An awesome tribute, thanks for the post ghuinness.

May God Bless you SFC Smith and your family, and my heartfelt thanks for your service and sacrifice.

12B4S
02-03-2005, 00:15
God Bless, Soldier

Hooahman
02-03-2005, 23:36
May god bless your family. Thank you for your sevice and devotion. hooah!!

Raven
02-05-2005, 21:07
God bless. RIP