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This Is Why We Stand: Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith


There is no greater luxury in life than having the ability to shape ones own destiny. In America, we live with this fundamental right every waking hour. This could not be so without the eternal sacrifices of men like Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith. Smith served in the 11th Engineer Battalion of the 3rd Infantry Division in the United States Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom. On April 4, 2003, Sergeant First Class Smith and his men were posted at a prisoner holding area by Baghdad International Airport. They suddenly came under attack by a company-sized enemy force (Between 80-250 men). He instantly recognized the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers and organized a defense of the area. While under fire, Smith personally engaged the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank-weapons. During the intense fighting, an armored personnel carrier was hit by a rocket propelled grenade and a mortar round. Sergeant First Class Smith ensured that three soldiers inside the vehicle were safely evacuated. Smith feared that the enemy was in danger of overrunning his men and their position. He then exposed himself to heavy enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged APC. He unhesitatingly held his position against the advancing enemy until being mortally wounded. His final stand allowed for the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers and helped to repel the enemy attack. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on April 4, 2005. We stand for Sergeant Paul Ray Smith and we honor his memory forever by remembering his story and sacrifice.

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