Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith
(Medal of Honor Citation Issued Posthumous by President George W. Bush on April 4, 2005)
His Heroic Story
On April 4, 2003, the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, attacked to seize Objective Lions, the Baghdad International Airport.
As part of the Brigade scheme of maneuver, Task Force 2-7 Infantry was tasked to establish a blocking position against a brigade-sized counterattack on the main entrance to the airfield.
Task Force 2-7 had been fighting for three consecutive days and had moved through the night before reaching the blocking position. Morale was high, but Soldiers were experiencing fatigue. B Company, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment (Knight) was in the east-most position oriented along the main avenue of approach ready for the main enemy counterattack.
A Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment (Rage) was attacking to the southeast of the Highway.
The main entrance to the airfield was a four-lane highway with a median to separate incoming and outgoing traffic. Large masonry walls with towers approximately 100 meters apart bound the highway. On the morning of April 4, 2003, more than 100 soldiers from the Task Force 2-7 Forward Aid Station, mortars, scouts and portions of B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion were in the median behind the forward most blocking positions. The B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion 2nd Platoon Leader was on a reconnaissance mission with the B Company, Task Force 2-7 Infantry Commander. During his absence, 2nd Platoon received the mission to construct an Enemy Prisoner of War holding area. Sgt. 1st Class Smith was in charge of 2nd Platoon.
Sgt. 1st Class Smith assessed the best location to be behind the masonry wall bounding the highway. Two guard towers along the wall were ideally situated to provide overwatch to the holding area. An M9 armored combat earthmover (ACE) knocked a hole in the wall to create an opening to a large courtyard with a louvered metal gate on the north side. With the help of a squad leader and team leader, Sgt. 1st Class Smith checked the far side of the courtyard for enemy, found none, and posted two guards. From the guard post at the gate small groupings of buildings were 100-200 meters to the northeast. To the northwest, a large white building with a white dome was visible. The location seemed perfect as the courtyard was along the northern flank of the blocking position and enemy actions to this point were mostly from the east.