SFC Paul Smith Receives Medal of Honor

SFC Paul R. Smith will today receive the Medal of Honor, posthumously. He is the first to be awarded the nation’s highest medal for gallantry since two Black Hawk Down heroes in 1993.

Medal of Honor to Be Awarded to Soldier Killed in Iraq, a First (NYT)

Sgt. First Class Paul R. Smith, killed nearly two years ago defending his vastly outnumbered Army unit in a fierce battle with elite Iraqi troops for control of Baghdad’s airport, will receive the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award, administration officials said Tuesday. No soldier who served in Afghanistan or Iraq after the Sept. 11 attacks has yet received the medal. The last conflict to produce a Medal of Honor recipient was in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993; two soldiers were awarded the medal posthumously for actions there, later depicted in the movie “Black Hawk Down.”

Sergeant Smith led a defense of a compound next to the airport against a much larger force of Special Republican Guard troops, manning a heavy machine gun, repeatedly firing and reloading three times before he was mortally wounded. Fellow soldiers said his actions killed 20 to 50 Iraqis, allowed wounded American soldiers to be evacuated, and saved an aid station and perhaps 100 lives. Sergeant Smith’s “extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor without regard to his own life in order to save others are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service,” a draft of the medal citation says.

President Bush will present the award to Sergeant Smith’s widow and children at a White House ceremony on Monday, the second anniversary of the airport battle and the soldier’s death.

See my previous report, “SFC Paul R. Smith Awarded Medal of Honor” (Feb. 2) for photos and more background.

FILED UNDER: Afghanistan War, Iraq War, Military Affairs, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. jackson c. nay jr says:

    I was in the 3rd Inf Division, 11th Engineers, HHC co and knew SFC Paul R. Smith and was there when he gave his life for his soldiers, friends, and his country. All i wanted to commit on was they could not have made a better decision on awarding a hero like SFC Smith with the medal he so deeply deserves. It brought tears to my eyes to know that soon the kids growing up will study this day and SFC Smith will always be remembered

  2. Todd Smith says:

    A real Audie Murphy moment. His family can be proud of him, and the rest of us are indebted to them for both his sacrifice and theirs.

  3. This is not a comment but an out reach for help. I am Paul’s first cousin on his biological fathers side of the family from Minnesota. We here just found out about his death, and the medal of honor on the same day, we were overwhelmed with emotions of all kinds. I am the same age as his brother Tony, my bother Rick is the same as Lisa, Rick is also an Army Reservist, my younger sister Wendy, was born a year after Paul. We would like to contact via email or letter to the family and express our regrets and get in touch after so many years. If any one knows how I would go about this please email with any information. Gods speed to you all,
    Kelly Smith-Porter