Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Submitted without comment. From OpinionJournal
When Medic Michelle Chavez tried to remove Sgt. Smith's helmet, she realized that it was holding his head together. A bullet--one of the last fired from the tower--had entered through Sgt. Smith's neck and traveled up into his brain, shattering his skull from the inside. There were 13 bullet holes peppered over his armored vest--the impact from any one of them enough to knock a man down. The vest's ceramic armor inserts, back and front, had been cracked in numerous places.

"Sapper Seven," the wiry, hollow-cheeked guy who had been so hard on his men in training, so exacting, so insistent on "doing it right"; the guy who had led them into battle on the first day of the war with a rock-'n'-roll tape blaring from his Humvee; the guy who had personally got down on his knees in front of their convoy to patiently, carefully extract the deadly mines when they ran into a minefield near the Karbala Gap, was dead.

A chaplain and a sergeant in dress uniforms came to Birgit Smith's home near Fort Stewart, Ga., late on the night of April 4 to break the terrible news. Mrs. Smith, the German girl Paul had met and married during his tour of duty in Western Europe in 1992, listened numbly to her visitors. She fought the growing dread and pain by grasping at a desperate hope:

"Our name is so common," she said, tears welling up in her eyes. "Maybe it's a mistake."

There was no mistake. Paul Ray Smith had given his life protecting his men and his position. He had almost single-handedly blunted an overwhelming attack which might well have overrun the nearby aid station.

"There are two ways to come home, stepping off the plane and being carried off the plane," Sgt. Smith had written in an unsent email to his parents. "It doesn't matter how I come home, because I am prepared to give all that I am to insure that all my boys make it home." He had been the only American killed in the courtyard fight.
blog comments powered by Disqus