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Holiday, Florida - It was 13 years ago when Birgit met a young soldier, Paul Smith, in Germany. He got down on one knee to sing the song ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’ from the movie Top Gun. In 1992, that soldier became her husband. And on April 4, 2003, she lost him in the Iraqi conflict.
U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Paul Smith was deployed for Iraq the day before the couple’s 11th wedding anniversary. As a Combat Engineer, he was part of the group that found and destroyed enemy weapons, and built bridges for troops to travel across to different areas. On the day he died, dozens of Iraqis started firing behind a wall. Perched on top of a military vehicle, Sgt. Smith began firing 300 rounds of ammunition, killing 50 Iraqis. He went down, and his actions possibly saved 100 of his own men.
Birgit is not surprised by her husband’s actions. He received the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, and is now nominated for the highest military honor, the Medal of Honor. But to a widow who must care for her teenage daughter and young son, the Medal means nothing to her. She says he’s a hero, not because he saved lives, but because he was a loving husband and father who took care of his family. Things he may not receive a medal for, but to her that’s biggest honor of all.
De Anna Sheffield, Tampa Bay's 10 News