Night ops

Monday, April 04, 2005

What Heroes Do

President Presents Medal of Honor to Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith:
"Paul earned his sergeant's stripes and became known as a stickler for detail. Sergeant Smith's seriousness wasn't always appreciated by the greener troops under his direction. Those greener troops oftentimes found themselves to do tasks over and over again, until they got it right. Specialist Michael Seaman, who is with us today, says, 'He was hard in training because he knew we had to be hard in battle.' Specialist Seaman will also tell you that he and others are alive today because of Sergeant Smith's discipline.

That discipline would be put to the task in a small courtyard less than a mile from the Baghdad airport. Sergeant Smith was leading about three dozen men who were using a courtyard next to a watchtower to build a temporary jail for captured enemy prisoners. As they were cleaning the courtyard, they were surprised by about a hundred of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard.

With complete disregard for his own life and under constant enemy fire, Sergeant Smith rallied his men and led a counterattack. Seeing that his wounded men were in danger of being overrun, and that enemy fire from the watchtower had pinned them down, Sergeant Smith manned a 50-caliber machine gun atop a damaged armor vehicle. From a completely exposed position, he killed as many as 50 enemy soldiers as he protected his men.

Sergeant Smith's leadership saved the men in the courtyard, and he prevented an enemy attack on the aid station just up the road. Sergeant Smith continued to fire and took a -- until he took a fatal round to the head. His actions in that courtyard saved the lives of more than 100 American soldiers.

Scripture tells us, as the General said, that a man has no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. And that is exactly the responsibility Paul Smith believed the Sergeant stripes on his sleeve had given him. In a letter he wrote to his parents but never mailed, he said that he was prepared to 'give all that I am to ensure that all my boys make it home.'

On this day two years ago, Sergeant Smith gave his all for his men. Five days later, Baghdad fell, and the Iraqi people were liberated. And today, we bestow upon Sergeant Smith the first Medal of Honor in the war on terror. He's also the first to be awarded this new Medal of Honor flag, authorized by the United States Congress. We count ourselves blessed to have soldiers like Sergeant Smith, who put their lives on the line to advance the cause of freedom and protect the American people."
Amen.

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