Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith

Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith received the Medal of Honor posthumously during a White House ceremony, April 4, 2005.

Paul Ray Smith was born on Sept. 24, 1969, in El Paso, Texas. At the age of nine, his family moved to South Tampa, Fla., where he attended public schools. He enjoyed sports, liked cats, skateboarding, riding bicycles, and playing pranks with friends and his younger sister, Lisa. He particularly enjoyed football, which instilled the importance of being part of a team and motivated the growth of his natural leadership abilities.

He developed an interest in carpentry while in high school and was employed part time as a carpenter assistant. Paul Ray had an interest in old carsAca,!"he enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked. He restored a dune buggy with a friend. He liked to collect things from the sea, rocks in general and marbles. His family remembered that as far back as they could recall, when anyone would ask what he wanted to do as an adult, he always said, Aca,!A"I want to be a Soldier, get married and have kids.Aca,!A?

Upon graduating in 1988 from Tampa Bay Vocational Technical High School, he joined the Army and attended Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. As his mother wrote in his biography for a dedication ceremony in Orlando: Aca,!A"He had begun living his dream...he was assigned to Germany, met and married his wife, Birgit, had two children, and was doing what he was born to do...lead American Soldiers....Aca,!A?

Smith joined the 11th Engineer Battalion in 1999, and immediately became an integral part of Bravo Company. When he deployed with his platoon to Kosovo in May 2001, as part of the KFOR 3A rotation, Smith was responsible for daily presence patrols in the highly populated town of Gnjilane. In the spring of 2002, he was promoted to sergeant first class and completed the Advanced Non-Commissioned Officer Course in August 2002.

In January 2003, Smith returned from leave to prepare his men for rapid deployment to Kuwait as part of the 3rd Infantry DivisionAca,!a,,cs buildup for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Smith took a strict approach to training his men, ensuring that his platoon was proficient in handling weapons and prepared for urban combat.

Bravo Company crossed the border on March 19, and traveled more than 300 kilometers in the first 48 hours of the war as part of the lead company in support of Task Force 2-7 Infantry. Passing through the Karbala Gap, Smith and his men pushed through the night of April 3, 2003, toward Baghdad Airport where Bravo Company, 11th Engineer Battalion of Task Force 2-7 were involved in a firefight with Iraqi forces.

SmithAca,!a,,cs personal character is best described through some anecdotes his sister related in a speech about her brother:

Aca,!A"Paul Ray had an incredible love for the troops under his command. One Christmas, the wife of a Soldier in Paul RayAca,!a,,cs platoon had just had surgery and the Soldier and his wife were unable to provide a Christmas for their family. So, Paul Ray collected food from the company Christmas party, and he and Birgit bought presents for the children, and they took them to the SoldierAca,!a,,cs home.Aca,!A? Paul RayAca,!a,,cs family never heard of this until recounted to them by friends after his death.

Aca,!A"AnotherAca,!A|very descriptive event that showed Paul RayAca,!a,,cs concern for his men involves another Soldier, whose baby daughter was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital with a serious illness. Paul Ray would drive an hour out of town every night to give his support to this Soldier and his wife.

Aca,!A"In the last letter that Paul Ray wrote to the parents from Iraq, he told them now that he was a father himself, he realized just how much they had sacrificed to make his life a good life and he thanked them for that special effort. He spoke of being prepared to giveAca,!"as he saidAca,!"Aca,!Eoeall that I am, to ensure that all my boys make it home.Aca,!a,,c In that same letter, he told our parents how proud he was of the Aca,!Eoeprivilege to be given 25 of the finest Americans we call Soldiers to lead into warAca,!a,,c and he recognized their fears and his responsibilities for their welfare.Aca,!A?

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 April 4, 2003.

On that day, 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, 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, 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 60 mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, 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 SmithAca,!a,,cs 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 Aca,!A"Rock of the Marne,Aca,!A? and the United States Army.

Spc. Ross A. McGinnis

Spc. Ross Andrew McGinnis received the Medal of Honor posthumously during a White House ceremony, June 2, 2008.

Ross Andrew McGinnis was born June 14, 1987 in Meadville, Pa. His family moved to Knox, northeast of Pittsburgh, when he was three. There, he attended Clarion County public schools, and was a member of the Boy Scouts. Growing up, he played basketball and soccer through the YMCA and Little League baseball. Ross was a member of the St. PaulAca,!a,,cs Lutheran Church in Knox, and a 2005 graduate of Keystone Junior-Senior High School.

RossAca,!a,,cs interests included video games and mountain biking. He was also a car enthusiast and took classes at the Clarion County Career Center in automotive technology. He also worked part-time at McDonaldAca,!a,,cs after school.

His mother, Romayne, said Ross wanted to be a Soldier early in life. When asked to draw a picture of what he wanted to be when he grew up, McGinnis, the kindergartner, drew a picture of a Soldier.

On his 17th birthday, June 14, 2004, Ross went to the Army recruiting station and joined through the Delayed Entry Program.

After initial entry training at Fort Benning, Ga., McGinnis was assigned to 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment in Schweinfurt, Germany. According to fellow Soldiers, he loved soldiering and took his job seriously, but he also loved to make people laugh. One fellow Soldier commented that every time McGinnis left a room, he left the Soldiers in it laughing.

The unit deployed to eastern Baghdad in August 2006, where sectarian violence was rampant. Ross was serving as an M2, .50-caliber machine gunner in 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment in support of operations against insurgents in Adhamiyah.

McGinnisAca,!a,,c dedication to duty and love for his fellow Soldiers were embodied in a statement issued by his parents shortly after his death:

Aca,!A"Ross did not become our hero by dying to save his fellow Soldiers from a grenade. He was a hero to us long before he died, because he was willing to risk his life to protect the ideals of freedom and justice that America represents. He has been recommended for the Medal of HonorAca,!A|. That is not why he gave his life. The lives of four men who were his Army brothers outweighed the value of his one life. It was just a matter of simple kindergarten arithmetic. Four means more than one.

Aca,!A"It didnAca,!a,,ct matter to Ross that he could have escaped the situation without a scratch. Nobody would have questioned such a reflex reaction. What mattered to him were the four men placed in his care on a momentAca,!a,,cs notice. One moment he was responsible for defending the rear of a convoy from enemy fire; the next moment he held the lives of four of his friends in his hands.

Aca,!A"The choice for Ross was simple, but simple does not mean easy. His straightforward answer to a simple but difficult choice should stand as a shining example for the rest of us. We all face simple choices, but how often do we choose to make a sacrifice to get the right answer' The right choice sometimes requires honor.Aca,!A?

Medal of Honor citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Pfc. Ross A. McGinnis distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an M2, .50-caliber machine gunner, 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy in Adhamiyah, northeast Baghdad, Iraq, on Dec. 4, 2006.

That afternoon, his platoon was conducting combat control operations in an effort to reduce and control sectarian violence in the area. While McGinnis was manning the M2, .50-caliber machine gun, a fragmentation grenade thrown by an insurgent fell through the gunnerAca,!a,,cs hatch into the vehicle. Reacting quickly, he yelled Aca,!A"grenade,Aca,!A? allowing all four members of his crew to prepare for the grenadeAca,!a,,cs blast.

Then, rather than leaping from the gunnerAca,!a,,cs hatch to safety, McGinnis made the courageous decision to protect his crew. In a selfless act of bravery, in which he was mortally wounded, McGinnis covered the live grenade, pinning it between his body and the vehicle and absorbing most of the explosion.

McGinnisAca,!a,,c gallant action directly saved four men from certain serious injury or death. Private First Class McGinnisAca,!a,,c extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti

Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti received the Medal of Honor posthumously during a White House ceremony, Sept. 17, 2009.

Jared C. Monti enlisted in the National Guard as a high school junior through the Delayed Entry Program, March 11, 1993. He went to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., between his junior and senior year of high school. After graduation, he switched to active duty and completed his initial military training at Fort Sill, Okla. After graduating from his Advanced Individual Training, he received the military operations specialty 13F, or fire support specialist. A fire support specialist leads, supervises, and serves in an intelligence and target-processing role in field artillery units of all sizes across the Army.

After graduating from basic and AIT he was stationed at Fort Riley, Kan. Monti was then assigned to Korea as part of 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, in the demilitarized zone. After leaving Korea, he moved to Fort Bragg, N.C. From Fort Bragg he went back to Korea before being assigned to Fort Drum, N.Y.

His military education includes completing the Combat Life Savers Course in 1995, Basic Airborne School in 1997, Primary Leadership Development Course in 1998, Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course in 2001, Air Assault C ourse in 2002 and the Joint Firepower/Control Course in 2004.

Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. MontiAca,!a,,cs dedication to duty and to his Soldiers was outlined in comments by President Barack Obama during the Medal of Honor presentation ceremony:

Aca,!A"Duty. Honor. Country. Service. Sacrifice. Heroism. These are words of weight. But as peopleAca,!"as a people and as a culture, we often invoke them lightly. We toss them around freely. But do we really grasp the meaning of these values' Do we truly understand the nature of these virtuesAca,!"to serve, and to sacrifice' Jared Monti knew. The Monti family knows. And they know that the actions we honor today were not a passing moment of courage. They were the culmination of a life of character and commitment.

Aca,!A"And there was JaredAca,!a,,cs deep and abiding love for his fellow Soldiers. Maybe it came from his mom, who was a nurse. Maybe it came from his dad, a teacher. Guided by the lessons he learned at home, Jared became the consummate NCOAca,!"the noncommissioned officer caring for his Soldiers and teaching his troops. He called them his Aca,!Eoeboys.Aca,!a,,c And although obviously he was still young himself, some of them called him Aca,!Eoegrandpa.Aca,!a,,c

Aca,!A"Compassion. Perseverance. Strength. A love for his fellow Soldiers. Those are the values that defined Jared MontiAca,!a,,cs lifeAca,!"and the values he displayed in the actions that we recognize here today.Aca,!A?

Medal of Honor citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Staff Sgt. Jared C. Monti distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a team leader with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, June 21, 2006.

While Monti was leading a mission aimed at gathering intelligence and directing fire against the enemy, his 16-man patrol was attacked by as many as 50 enemy fighters. On the verge of being overrun, Monti quickly directed his men to set up a defensive position behind a rock formation.

He then called for indirect fire support, accurately targeting the rounds upon the enemy who had closed to within 50 meters of his position. While still directing fire, Monti personally engaged the enemy with his rifle and a grenade, successfully disrupting an attempt to flank his patrol. Monti then realized that one of his Soldiers was lying wounded in the open ground between the advancing enemy and the patrolAca,!a,,cs position.

With complete disregard for his own safety, Monti twice attempted to move from behind the cover of the rocks into the face of relentless enemy fire to rescue his fallen comrade. Determined not to leave his Soldier, Monti made a third attempt to cross open terrain through intense enemy fire. On this final attempt, he was mortally wounded, sacrificing his own life in an effort to save his fellow Soldier.

MontiAca,!a,,cs selfless acts of heroism inspired his patrol to fight off the larger enemy force. Staff Sergeant MontiAca,!a,,cs immeasurable courage and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, and the United States Army.

EditorAca,!a,,cs note: This information was compiled by from stories written by Beth Reece (Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith), Carrie McLeroy (Spc. Ross A. McGinnis) and Elizabeth M. Collins (Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti), as well as from official DOD and Army documents, and interviews with family members. Full profiles and additional information can be found at