Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith proved how much he cared about his fellow soldiers long before he earned the Medal of Honor. When he learned that one of his soldier's family couldn't afford to have a Christmas with their children, he went out and purchased gifts for their children. When one of his soldiers had a baby in the hospital, he drove an hour every day to visit them. You can read more here.
He earned the medal of honor in 2003, when he was part of an Engineering company in Baghdad, Iraq. He gave his life to ensure that other soldiers could escape safely.
Sergeant First Class 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, Sergeant First Class 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, Sergeant First Class 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 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class 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.
The official citation can be read here.
As writers of fiction, we create heroes from our imaginations. Paul Smith was the real thing.