SFC Paul Ray Smith

| April 4, 2013

SFC Paul Ray Smith

On this day in 2003, Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith was killed and two years later, to the day, he was awarded the Medal of Honor;

Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith’s extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne,” and the United States Army.

Category: Historical

Comments (18)

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  1. PintoNag says:

    God bless you, SFC Smith. May you Rest in Peace.

  2. MGySgtRet. says:

    Never Forget!!! RIP Warrior!

  3. FourteenSierra says:

    RIP and GodBless. May you rest in Peace knowing your life serves as a reminder to me, and my kids, of what Honor and Selflessness truly is.

  4. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    I recall him and his story well. He had a wife and two children. He was a fine man. To give you a glimpse of what kind of man he was, here is an excerpt of a speech delivered by his sister:

    “Paul Ray had an incredible love for the troops under his command. One Christmas, the wife of a Soldier in Paul Ray’s platoon had just had surgery and the Soldier and his wife were unable to provide a Christmas for their family. So, Paul Ray collected food from the company Christmas party, and he and Birgit bought presents for the children, and they took them to the Soldier’s home.” Paul Ray’s family never heard of this until recounted to them by friends after his death. “Another…..very descriptive event that showed Paul Ray’s concern for his men involves another Soldier whose baby daughter was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital with a serious illness. Paul Ray would drive an hour out of town every night to give his support to this Soldier and his wife.” In the last letter that Paul Ray wrote to the parents from Iraq, he told them “..now that he was a father himself, he realized just how much they had sacrificed to make his life a good life and he thanked them for that special effort. He spoke of being prepared to give—as he said—‘all that I am, to ensure that all my boys make it home.’ In that same letter, he told our parents how proud he was of the ‘privilege to be given 25 of the finest Americans we call Soldiers to lead into war’ and he recognized their fears and his responsibilities for their welfare.”

    Awards: Medal of Honor, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal (4OLC), Army Achievement Medal (5OLC), Good Conduct Medal (3d award), National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, South West Asia Service Medal(3 bronze stars), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal , Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Army NCO Professional Development Ribbon (2d award), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (3d award), NATO Medal (Kosovo), Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia), Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait), Valorous Unit Award, Army Superior Unit Award, German Marksmanship Badge, French Armed Forces Commando Badge.

    God bless him, his family, and all who remember him.

  5. Twist says:

    Damn fine NCO who took good care of his Soldiers. He took the NCO Creed to heart. To paraphrase the first line of the Creed “No one is more professional than you SFC Smith”.

  6. Sgt K says:

    Rock of the Marne!

  7. Scalpel Shepherd says:

    It was an honor to stand where this fine NCO gave his life for his men. I have pictures if you want to see where this occurred.

  8. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    I have no words at moments like this beyond a simple thank you and may you rest in peace.

    That we have men like this walking among us never ceases to amaze me. God bless him indeed.

  9. Geetwillickers says:


  10. Andy Kravetz says:

    There was a guy in his unit from my circulation area who was good buddies with Smith. That guy, Lincoln Hollinsaid, was killed a few days afterwards. I met with his parents during a two-week trip around the state of Illinois where I met with 12 Gold Star families and then did a series in 2004 on the cost of the first year for our area.

    I bring this up only because I remember hearing a lot about Paul Ray that goes well beyond the courage he had. Tragic that the best and brightest are often the people whom we don’t get a chance to meet.

    Andy Kravetz, reporter
    Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star

  11. Just Plain Jason says:


  12. Jon The Mechanic says:

    I can’t remember where I saw this, but I had heard a story that SFC Smith had told, on the eve of deployment, his platoon that he would do everything within his power to make sure that the platoon brought back everyone who deployed.

  13. Andy Kravetz says:


    I heard that story too from Lincoln’s mother.

  14. rb325th says:

    May they all Rest in Peace. Never Forget!!

  15. Tman says:

    He was an exemplary man, soldier, NCO, the type that anyone would have gladly served under and given his life for.

    SFC Smith was only one of three MOH recipients that did not serve as an infantry man or in Special Ops (Special Forces, SEALs).

  16. Sporkmaster says:

    The 11th Engineer unit was my first unit and was still under them when I first wrote to this blog from Iraq.

    Granted this was four years after the events in Iraq in 2003 and the 11th Engineer was no longer part of the 3rd ID and was just standing up as a Battalion again.

    On the 11th Engineer’s page there is a photo that looks like it might have been taken before the battle.

  17. Elric says:

    I think of him every time I fly in and out of BIAP. There is a beautiful soldier education center at Stewart fittingly named in his honor.

  18. B Woodman says:

    It’s too bad that the lives of such upstanding men of honor and courage are wasted on the treacherous hive of scum and villainy that resides and works within the DC beltway.