Third ID Soldier to Get Highest Military Honor

Almost two years after his death in battle, a Third Infantry Division sergeant is in line for the military's highest honor. In April of 2003, Sgt. First Class Paul Smith died trying to protect his soldiers, and now, his family is finding out that he's becoming the first person to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in more than ten years.

Sgt. Smith's Bravo Company found itself in a very tough situation on April 4, 2003. Smith and 16 of his soldiers were outnumbered and outgunned by a large group of Iraqis near the Baghdad International Airport. Sgt. Smith jumped on an abandoned personnel carrier and began firing back with its .50-caliber machine gun.

Pvt. Michael Seaman said at the time, "He just kept saying, 'Give me more ammo, give me more ammo. I've got to get these guys out of here.'"

It was that brave act that left him exposed to enemy fire. "Things just started going crazy. There were shots coming from every angle," recalled Pvt. Seaman.

Smith was shot in the head, and died a short time later. Everyone else in Bravo Company made it out of that battle alive, due in no small part to Sgt. Smith's heroics.

Smith's family, who live near Tampa, Florida, has yet to hear an official word from the White House, but the Pentagon has already told them that the President will award him the Medal of Honor posthumously sometime in the next few months.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com