About the story

By Times Staff Writer
Published January 25, 2004

[Times photo: Brendan Fitterer]
Reporter Alex Leary talks with soldiers at Fort Stewart, Ga., shortly after they returned from Iraq last summer. The GIs are sketching a map of the courtyard where Paul Smith and his men fought Iraqis.

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10 News: Medal of Honor Nomination

Related Site: Official Medal of Honor site

Times ongoing reports from a region in conflict

Credits: Story: Alex Leary
Story editors: Mike Moscardini, Stephen Buckley, Neil Brown
Times photos: Brendan Fitterer
Photo editor: Scott Demuesy, Joseph Garnett, Jr.
Art: Jeff Goertzen, Mike Moscardini
Audio editing: Jack Rowland
Print design: Amy Hollyfield
Online news editor: Keisha Clark
Online design and multimedia:
Lee Glynn

The narrative of the courtyard battle is based primarily on interviews with the soldiers who fought there.

Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith took 16 men with him to build a POW enclosure inside. Two infantry scouts joined the fight. A handful of other soldiers were inside at one point or another, including the three-man crew of the Bradley. Of the total, reporter Alex Leary interviewed 19.

Leary also drew from the report prepared by the 11th Engineer Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Thomas P. Smith (no relation) to support Sgt. Smith's nomination for the Medal of Honor.

The story focuses primarily on action in the courtyard, where Smith fought. It largely ignores the rest of the battle, waged along a 200-yard section of wall running west from the courtyard.


At several points, the story describes what a person was thinking at a particular time, as in: "Please, God," Pace prayed, "let me make it across this courtyard." In every instance, the source of these thoughts is the person quoted.

For purposes of clarity, misspellings in Smith's letters to his wife and parents have been fixed. The letters, in their original form, can be seen on the Times' Web site.

Information from the book Medal of Honor by Allen Mikaelian was used in this report.


The headline "The last full measure of devotion" is taken from the last sentence in Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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Paul Smith: Medal of Honor
Paul Smith: Medal of Honor
Paul Smith: Medal of Honor
Paul Smith: Medal of Honor
Paul Smith: Medal of Honor
Paul Smith: Medal of Honor
Paul Smith: Medal of Honor
Paul Smith: Medal of Honor
Paul Smith: Medal of Honor
Paul Smith: Medal of Honor
Paul Smith: Medal of Honor