Magazine article VFW Magazine

Schools Renamed for 'A True American Hero'

Magazine article VFW Magazine

Schools Renamed for 'A True American Hero'

Article excerpt

Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2005 for his actions during the Iraq War. Shortly after his death, his memory was cemented at two Florida school districts.

Hillsborough and Pasco county school districts each named a middle school after the Iraq War veteran, a Tampa native.

On April 4, 2003, Smith volunteered to create a holding pen inside a walled courtyard in Baghdad for Iraqi prisoners. Before he and his 16 men could begin construction, Iraqis opened fire. A member of 2nd Plt., B Co., 11th Engineers, 3rd Inf. Div., Smith manned a .50-caliber machine gun atop an abandoned armored personnel carrier, firing more than 300 rounds. Smith was killed by return fire.

Exactly two years later, his then-11year-old son, David, accepted the Medal of Honor from President George W. Bush.

Pasco County School District in Holiday, Fla., named its middle school after Smith on Aug. 25, 2006. The school's principal, Joel DiVincent, said Smith lived in the Holiday community, and Smith's son also attended the school. DiVincent said there was a "tremendous amount of appreciation" not only for Smith, but for all who serve their country.

"While our school board has occasionally named schools after public officials, former school board members and former superintendents, I know there was a lot of excitement for naming this school after a local resident who happened to be a true American hero," DiVincent said.

There is signage throughout the building that tells Smith's story, along with a marquee in the gymnasium. …

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