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Tuesday, June 03, 2008
The Medal of Honor Process

Here's a terrific piece on the effort to get Sgt. Paul R. Smith his Congressional Medal of Honor, with some more details about the action that led to his death:

Sergeant Smith was directing his platoon to lay concertina wire across the corner of a courtyard near the airport, in order to create a temporary holding area for Iraqi prisoners of war. Then he noticed Iraqi troops massing, armed with AK-47s, RPGs, and mortars. Soon, mortar fire had wounded three of his men—the crew of the platoon’s M113A3 armored personnel carrier. A hundred well-armed Iraqis were now firing on his 16-man platoon.

Sergeant Smith threw grenades and fired an AT-4, a bazooka-like anti-tank weapon. A Bradley fighting vehicle from another unit managed to hold off the Iraqis for a few minutes, but then inexplicably left (out of ammunition, it would later turn out). Sergeant Smith was now in his rights to withdraw his men from the courtyard. But he rejected that option because it would have threatened American soldiers who were manning a nearby road block and an aid station. Instead, he decided to climb atop the Vietnam-era armored personnel carrier whose crew had been wounded and man the .50- caliber machine gun himself. He asked Private Michael Seaman to go inside the vehicle, and to feed him a box of ammunition whenever the private heard the gun go silent.

Highly recommended!

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