Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith was 33 when he was mortally wounded on April 4, 2003, near Baghdad International Airport. "In total disregard for his own life," Smith braved "withering enemy fire" to repel an attack by more than 100 heavily armed fedayeens and saved the lives of scores of his soldiers.
Cpl. Jason Dunham was a 22-year-old squad leader in Karabilah, Iraq. On April 14, 2004, while grappling with a suspected insurgent after an ambush, the terrorist released a hand grenade. "Without hesitation, Cpl. Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet and body." His ultimate and selfless act of bravery "saved the lives of at least two fellow Marines."
Lt. Michael Murphy was 29, a Navy SEAL, leading a four-man team in the mountains of Afghanistan's Kunar province on June 28, 2005. When they were surrounded and engaged by more than 30 Taliban terrorists, every man was gravely wounded during a two-hour-long gunfight. Yet "in the face of almost certain death," Murphy fought his way to an exposed position to radio for help and then fought on until he was mortally wounded.
After presenting the Medal of Honor to Murphy's parents at the White House this week, President Bush said, "With this medal, we acknowledge a debt that will not diminish with time -- and can never be repaid." Unfortunately, thanks to our mainstream media, most Americans don't even know about this debt or the heroes to which it is owed. Though Michael Murphy was a native of Long Island, N.Y., The New York Times, which proudly boasts "all the news that's fit to print," gave limited coverage to the award.
In this war, courage isn't the only thing that doesn't get the coverage it deserves. The potentates of the press virtually ignored this week's announcement from Baghdad by Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno and Iraqi Lt. Gen. Abboud Qanbar that since June, terrorist attacks have dropped by 59 percent; that casualties from improvised explosive devices are down 80 percent; that sectarian violence is off by 72 percent; that there has been an 81 percent drop in Iraqi civilians killed.
Last week, there were no coalition casualties -- Iraqi or American -- in Anbar province. Just a year ago, this was the main base for al-Qaida and the bloodiest place in Mesopotamia. Having spent six of my eight trips to Iraq in Anbar, this is great news. But what am I thinking? Good news from Iraq or Afghanistan -- or about heroes like Paul Ray Smith, Jason Dunham and Michael Murphy who fight there -- is no news.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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