Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith deployed to Iraq as a platoon sergeant in B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division. Sgt. 1st Class Smith's unit of combat engineers were an element of Task Force 2-7.
Task Force 2-7
The 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, was commanded by Lt. Col. Scott E. Rutter (Ret.) during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Task Force 2-7 was one of the most highly decorated combat units involved in the initial operations of the invasion of Iraq.
Seventh Infantry Regiment
The rich heritage of the 7th Infantry Regiment spans 200 years and 12 wars with 76 campaign streamers earned and 14 unit decorations received. The Regiment has served in more campaigns than any other Infantry unit in the United States Army. It was initially organized in response to the “quasi-war” with France during the summer of 1798. The first major conflict in which the Regiment was engaged was the Indian War of 1811, where it fought under General William Henry Harrison in Ohio and Indiana. Its first encounter against foreign troops took place in the War of 1812, where the 7th Infantry saw action in Canada, Florida and Louisiana.
It was the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, while being commanded by Andrew Jackson, who later became President of the United States, that the 7th Infantry was dubbed the “COTTONBALERS.” During that battle, the 7th successfully held their position against the British forces from behind a breastwork of cotton bales. The nickname “Cottonbalers” was proudly accepted by the Regiment and a cotton bale was incorporated into the Regimental Coat of Arms and to the Distinctive Unit Insignia.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Cottonbalers went into action, and by 1865, had added 14 campaign streamers to the Regimental colors. In 1898, the Spanish-American War began, and the 7th Infantry was sent to fight in Cuba at El Caney and San Juan Hill. In 1901, the Regiment was shipped to the Philippines to quell the insurrection there, serving in Samar and Luzon.
During World War I, a well-prepared 7th Infantry landed in France as part of the newly formed 3d Infantry Division. It participated in the Aisne Defensive, the struggle at Chateau-Thierry, the Champaigne-Marne Defensive, and proceeded onward in offensive actions at Aisne-Marne, Meuse-Argonne, and St. Mihiel.
With its outstanding record of achievement stretching out over almost half a century, the Cottonbalers plunged into World War II by being among the first to land in North Africa in 1942 with their assault on Morocco. This was the beginning of a series of victories during WWII that added ten more battle streamers to their colors. The 7th Infantry pushed onward from North Africa through Italy and France to Germany, where the Cottonbalers capped their efforts by capturing Berchtesgaden, Adolph Hitler’s mountain fortress.
Five years after the end of WWII, the 7th Infantry was deployed from Fort Devens, Massachusetts to action in Korea where it rejoined the other elements of the 3d Infantry Division. Landing at Wonsan, North Korea on November 17, 1950, the Cottonbalers took up positions between Wonsan and Hamhung while they fought a courageous rear guard action receiving elements of the First Marine Division as it withdrew from the Chosin Reservoir, controlling the escape route to Hamhung and the sea for UN forces mauled by the entry into the war by the Chinese. Following the truce with the North Koreans the Regiment returned to Fort Benning, Georgia.
In 1990 the 2d and 3d Battalions deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of the 24th Infantry Division, attacking into Iraq the following February as it lead the 24th into the Euphrates River Valley. Victorious, the 24th moved back into Saudi Arabia on March 9, 1991, and subsequently redeployed to Fort Stewart.
In early 2003 the 2d and 3d Battalions returned to the Middle East as fighting resumed in Iraq, distinguishing themselves once again as elements of the Army’s Premier Regiment. Today, as ever, the 7th Infantry Regiment stands by its motto, “Willing and Able,” to defend freedom at a moment’s notice, anywhere in the world. The 7th Infantry ranks first on the Army’s Order of Merit List in terms of date constituted, awards and decorations received, and campaign streamers earned.
The 11th Engineer Battalion (Combat)
The mission of the 11th Engineer Battalion (Combat), is to deploy rapidly to a contingency area by air, sea, and land; protect the force; and provide continuous combat engineer support for mobile combined arms offensive and defensive operations.
The 11th Engineer Battalion's history begins in 1917 with the activation of the 11th Engineer Regiment (Railway). It was one of the three regiments activated to maintain railroads in northern France in support of the American deployment and the overall war effort. The 11th landed in France on August 1917 -- the first American unit to enter the European theater.
In 1920, at the close of World War I, the Regiment was reactivated in the Panama Canal Zone as the 11th Engineer Regiment (Combat). For the next 23 years, the 11th conducted numerous engineer missions over rugged terrain and through dense jungle. It was in Panama that the 11th adopted for its crest the Panama Black Panther and assumed the nickname "Jungle Cats."
During World War II, the 11th cleared minefields, repaired roads, built and repaired bridges, and conducted demolition missions. When hostilities ended they stayed in Europe carrying out reconstruction projects until 1946.
The 11th was reactivated in Japan in March 1950, where it constructed training areas for Infantry Divisions headed into the Korean Theater. During the war, the battalion fought alongside U.N. Forces as infantry and supported the 24th Infantry Division in its crossing of the Naktong River. The Battalion stayed in Korea until 1971, assisting in the reconstruction and defense of South Korea.
The "Jungle Cats" deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and crossed the border into Iraq on March 20, as part of the 3d Infantry Division, 1st Brigade "Raiders." The Raiders stormed into Iraq and through the Karbala Gap, engaging enemy forces along the way. On April 2nd, 2003, the Raiders, supported by Air Force ordnance and Army artillery, were pitched into the battle for Saddam International Airport. After two days of fighting, during which many Iraqi troops were killed and captured, the buildings in and around the compound were secured. It was during this combat that Sgt. 1st Class Smith dispatched between 50-100 Iraqi's and was subsequently killed. The airport, under coalition control, was renamed Baghdad International Airport. Baghdad fell a few days later to Coalition forces led by the 3d Infantry Division.
On March 15, 2004, the 11th Engineer Brigade was deactivated as part of modularity restructuring. The majority or 11th Engineer Battalion Soldiers remain in the 3rd Infantry Division, assigned to the Brigade Troops Battalion.
The 3D Infantry Division (Mechanized)
"Rock of the Marne!"
The 3d Infantry Division has one of the most successful combat records of any U.S. Army division. It has paid a high price for this distinction, suffering nearly 35,000 wartime casualties. Fifty members of the 3d Infantry Division have been awarded the Medal of Honor while serving our nation.
Activated in November 1917 during World War I at Camp Greene, North Carolina, the Division went into combat for the first time eight months later in France. At midnight on July 14, 1918, the Division earned lasting distinction. Engaged in the Aisne-Marne Offensive, the Division was protecting Paris at a position on the banks of the Marne River. When flanking units retreated, then Division Commander, Major General Joseph Dickman, told our French allies "Nous Resterons La - We shall remain here." The 3rd Infantry Division remained rock solid and earned its reputation as the "Rock of the Marne".
During World War II the 3rd Infantry Division fought in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Germany and Austria for 531 consecutive days of combat. 3rd Infantry Division soldiers earned 36 Medals of Honor during World War II. In a single day of combat at Anzio, the 3rd Infantry Division suffered more than 900 casualties, the most of any division on one day in World War II. The most highly decorated and well known soldier of the war, LT Audie Murphy served with the 15th Infantry Regiment in France and Italy.
During the Korean War, the Division, was known as the "Fire Brigade" for its rapid response to crisis. Eleven more MOH recipients were added to the division's list of heroes during the Korean War.
In November 1990, soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division were once again called into action. Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, more than 6,000 Marne men and women deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Desert Storm as part of the Allied Coalition.
In 1996 the Division was re-stationed at Fort Stewart, Fort Benning, and Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia. The Division repeatedly demonstrated its deployability by maintaining a brigade task force presence in Kuwait. It has also moved sizeable forces to Egypt, Bosnia and Kosovo in partnership training and peacekeeping missions. Since Sept 11, 2001, units have been sent to Afghanistan, Pakistan and other Middle Eastern countries in the War on Terrorism.
Early in 2003 the deployability and fighting capability of the Marne Division was highly visible worldwide when the entire Division deployed to Kuwait. As Operation Iraqi Freedom began in early April, the division was called on to spearhead the advance to Baghdad. The overwhelming Coalition force took Baghdad in 21 days, leading to the end of Saddam Hussein's tyranny over the people of Iraq. Today the Division remains in Iraq contributing to stabilization and nation building with Coalition forces and the people of that long oppressed nation.