SMITH, PAUL F.
SMITH, PAUL F.
Major General, U.S. Army
Headquarters, 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate),
Date of Action: November 19, 1966
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Paul F.
Smith, Major General, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with
military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the
Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Headquarters, 173d Airborne Brigade.
Major General Smith distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on
19 November 1966 while commanding the 173d Airborne Brigade on a search and
destroy operation near Minh Thanh. Despite the extreme hazards involved, he
boldly chose to visit a forward patrol base that had been under sniper and
claymore mine attack for three days. At the time General Smith arrived, the
perimeter was only manned by a skeleton force, but he insisted upon visiting the
troops that were on line. Within ten minutes, two platoon patrols outside the
camp were pinned down by a large Viet Cong force and the perimeter was again
ravaged by intense hostile fire. Unmindful of the dangers, General Smith refused
to take cover and calmly proceeded among the defenders, encouraging the men in
their foxholes. Throughout the three-hour battle, he provided tactical advice to
his subordinate commanders. At one point, the elements under severest attack
were perilously low on ammunition, but because of devastating ground fire aerial
re-supply was prevented. With complete disregard for his safety, General Smith
fearlessly exposed himself to the hail of bullets and directed an armed
helicopter strike on the charging Viet Cong. This courageous and timely action
enabled the supply aircraft to land and allowed the besieged camp to finally
repel the insurgent force. Later after the wounded had been evacuated, he
conduced an aerial reconnaissance of the area an discovered a large cache of
rice and supplies. His unimpeachable valor and profound concern for his men
turned impending disaster into a major victory over a numerically superior
hostile force. Major General Smith's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty
were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect
great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
HQ US Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 497 (February 1, 1967)