Alpine Summit

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Real Men

Last night I was watching "Shootout" on the history channel and the episode was the fight for Baghdad. One of the skirmishes/battles they featured was a fight at the Baghdad airport where a Sergeant won the Medal of Honor.


Rank and Organization: Sergeant First Class, United States Army
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, 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.

I couldn't possibly hope to be half the man guys like this are. When I hear of battles or read historical accounts of battles, it's a very abstract concept for me. The great thing about "Shootout" is that it recreates the battles so vividly and gives you a much less abstract concept of what the battle was actually like by using the perspective of the individual soldiers. When you read in a history book about a battle, you think: "oh, side x fired on side y and they fought and one side won." In actuality, there are emotions and perspectives not being conveyed. It's hard, if not downright impossible, to quantify such things in a book but "Shootout" does an excellent (albeit still lacking) job of how it must be for soldiers on the ground.

Watching this show, I also can't help but compare such bravery and galantry to the cowardice and irrelevance of the people wishing failure on these men and women. History has shown, though, that the soldiers are buried in accolades and praise by a grateful nation (including Vietnam- it just took longer) while the hippies and protesters are buried into obscurity. Nobody is going to be speaking the name of Michael Moore with hushed reverence in 50 years- unlike Sgt. Paul R. Smith.

Interestingly, the next show was "Man, Moment, Machine" a.k.a. "M3." That episode was about Gen. Schwartzkopf, the first Iraq campaign and the M1A1 Abrams tank- though I think it's more accurate to call it the "Kuwait campaign" because liberating Kuwait was the primary aim of the war. Anyway, I recall (I was 9) protests in the street similar to the ones today protesting THAT war with the typical "no blood for oil" and "wage peace" signs. We could have gotten rid of Saddam back then, but the U.N. would have none of it and the LIBERAL MEDIA kept making Bush 41 out to be some imperialist oppressor of goat farmers. So, when we could have easily walked into Baghdad with impunity, we didn't; we left and allowed Saddam to continue killing his own people and support terrorists and play all the games he played all through the 90's. That seems to be the common theme: whenever we follow the views of these whacko America-haters, we eventually end up in more trouble than we started.

For that reason, I'll continue putting my money on our military and the outstanding individuals who make up that outstanding organization and who perform their jobs with the utmost of professionalism and patriotism.