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BLACK LIVES MATTER!

Paul R. Smith /medal of honor


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I came across this article about the first soldier of the war in Iraq to receive a medal of honor

an excerpt:

The last full measure of devotion

By ALEX LEARY, Times Staff Writer

Published January 25, 2004

The GIs were dirty, mosquito-bitten, fatigued, homesick. They had been on the road almost constantly for two weeks. Many had not slept in days.

At dawn on April 4, they arrived at Saddam International Airport to the sound of sporadic gunfire and the acrid smell of distant explosions. Breakfast was a mushy, prepackaged concoction the Army optimistically calls "pasta with vegetables."

Still, the mood was upbeat.

Reaching the airport meant the war was almost over. Some of the men broke out cheap cigars to celebrate.

Afterward, Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith and his combat engineers set about their mission that day, putting up a roadblock on the divided highway that connects the airport and Baghdad. Then, just before 10 a.m., a sentry spotted Iraqi troops nearby. Maybe 15 or 20. By the time Smith had a chance to look for himself, the number was closer to 100.

Smith could oppose them with just 16 men.

He ordered his soldiers to take up fighting positions and called for a Bradley, a powerful armored vehicle. It arrived quickly and opened fire. The Americans thought they were in control until, inexplicably, the Bradley backed up and left.

another excerpt:

"If the Medal of Honor today has an intangible and solemn halo around it," wrote author Allen Mikaelian, "it is partly due to those men who did not survive to wear it."

Gen. George Patton said he would give his soul for one. Lyndon Johnson and Harry Truman said they would rather have the medal than be president.

By law, the Medal of Honor is awarded by the president only to those in the armed services who distinguish themselves "conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of (their lives) above and beyond the call of duty."

"Above and beyond the call of duty" has a specific meaning. The medal is not awarded to those who act under orders, no matter how heroic their actions. In fact, according to Library of Congress defense expert David F. Burrelli, it must be "the type of deed which, if he had not done it, would not subject him to any justified criticism."

Given the extraordinarily high standard, it is far from certain Smith will be awarded the Medal of Honor. But his story is as much about professionalism as it is heroism. He had thought about what it means to lead men in combat. He knew that men will more willingly follow a superior who exposes himself to danger, shares their hardships, shows concern for their welfare.

On April 4, Smith did all of those things.

http://www.sptimes.com/2004/webspecials04/...nor/story.shtml

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