Story of a US Army Sapper

Excuse this somewhat dated item but I came across it in doing a bit of research regarding the news today that a still living US soldier is being considered for the Medal of Honor. Since the following concerns a sapper, I thought you may find it of interest:

This is the MOH citation:

Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith
United States Army

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

Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith’s extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne,” and the United States Army.
This is the statement of his widow at the presentation ceremony:

First, I would like to say how proud I am to receive this award in honor of Paul. Paul loved his country, he loved the Army, and he loved his soldiers. He loved being a sapper. He died doing what he loved.

I'm grateful the Army gave Paul the opportunity to fulfill his dream of serving his country. He touched so many lives in so many ways and made a lot of people better soldiers and better people by what they learned from him.

I would like to thank all of the soldiers who influenced Paul as he advanced through his military career. Most described him as tough, fair and always putting the mission and his soldiers first. Paul was proud of all of his troops, particularly those in 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, 11th Engineer. He was dedicated to duty and unwilling to accept less than the best.

My family and I continue to be overwhelmed by the American people's appreciation of his service, and I'm sure Paul would be proud to know that I have begun the process of becoming an American citizen.

Sixty years ago, American soldiers liberated the German people from tyranny in World War II. Today another generation of American soldiers has given the Iraqis, the Afghani people a birth of freedom. This is an ideal that Paul truly believed in.

I know that Paul is looking down on the ceremony, along with Staff Sergeant Hollingshead and Private First Class Myer and all the other fallen soldiers from Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. May God bless them and their family.

Every soldier has a story. Because of this award, Paul's story of uncommon valor will forever be remembered. As soldiers, I encourage you to tell your stories, because the American people and the world will better understand the sacrifice of Paul and others like him. One soldier's story at a time.

Hoo-ah and God bless you.

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