As a country we should be asking what did we do to deserve fine young men like Corporal Kyle Carpenter (USMC-Ret.). The White House announced last week that Carpenter will be awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallant actions during a Taliban attack in 2010.
On June 19, 2014, President Barack Obama will award Corporal William “Kyle” Carpenter, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret), the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. Corporal Carpenter will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as an Automatic Rifleman with Company F, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 1, 1st Marine Division (Forward), I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Corporal Carpenter will be the eighth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. He and his family will join the President at the White House to commemorate his example of selfless service.
The White House announcement unfortunately does nothing to tell the story of Carpenter’s selfless actions that day in Afghanistan which left him grievously wounded.
What Carpenter did was fall on a hand grenade that had been tossed up on the roof where he and LCpl Nick Eufrazio were posting security. The Marine Corps Times had a report on the incident that was published in 2012. At the time, the incident was under investigation to see exactly what happened during that attack. Carpenter doesn’t remember and his fellow Marine LCpl Eufrazio suffered traumatic brain injury from a piece of shrapnel.
Lance Cpls. Kyle Carpenter and Nick Eufrazio were posting security together on a dusty rooftop in Afghanistan when an insurgent tossed a hand grenade at them. The world melted in a white-hot blast, and the two men were rocked by an explosion that could be heard nearly a mile away.
More than a year later, the Marine Corps continues to investigate what occurred, said Lt. Col. James Fullwood and Capt. Michael Manocchio, who served as two of the senior officers in their unit, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., during that deployment. Other personnel in the compound during the Nov. 21, 2010, attack insist there’s no doubt Carpenter shielded Eufrazio from most of the blast, and deserves the Medal of Honor.
“Kyle covered that grenade,” said Hospitalman 3rd Class Christopher Frend, the corpsman who first rendered medical care to Carpenter and Eufrazio. “Grenade blasts blow up; they don’t blow down. If he hadn’t done it, what we found would have looked completely different.”
Carpenter describes his injuries in an interview with Marine Corps Times.
Carpenter was medically retired from the Marines in 2013 and is now a full time student at the University of South Carolina. Despite the 30 surgeries over 19 months to repair the injuries he suffered that day in 2010, Carpenter’s spirit wasn’t crushed. Indeed, as he says in the video below, he’s just getting started.
As I said in the intro, we should be asking what did we do as a country to have such fine men who were willing to sacrifice everything in order to protect us. I’m not sure of the answer but I know we should be extremely grateful and I am. So on this Memorial Day 2014, I would like to thank Cpl. Carpenter for his selfless gallantry and I would especially like to remember those who gave everything so that we could be free.