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Son stands in for his fallen father

By ALEX LEARY, Times Staff Writer
Published April 4, 2005

WASHINGTON - With the nation's top military officials looking on, President Bush on Monday presented the Medal of Honor to the family of Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith of Tampa, who died two years ago in Iraq.

"We are here to pay tribute to a soldier whose service illustrates the highest ideals of leadership and love of our country," Bush said in a 3 p.m. ceremony at the White House.

Bush handed the framed medal, the nation's highest award for valor, to Smith's 11-year-old son while his widow, Birgit, and daughter Jessica stood at his side.

Smith, 33, was killed April 4, 2003, while repressing an Iraqi attack against his much smaller unit of combat engineers. He manned a .50-caliber machine gun as the others got to safety.

For more on his story, visit

[Last modified April 4, 2005, 16:50:03]

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