At the White House this afternoon, President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to Corporal William "Kyle" Carpenter, a retired United States Marine. Corporal Carpenter received the medal for his courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
By all accounts, Kyle shouldn't be alive today. On November 21, 2010, Kyle's platoon woke up to the sound of AK-47 fire. As their compound began taking fire, Kyle and Lance Corporal Nicholas Eufrazio took cover up on a roof, low on their backs behind a circle of sandbags. And then a grenade landed nearby, its pin already pulled.
In the President's remarks, he detailed the horrific events that followed:
Kyle has no memory of what happened next. What we do know is that there on that rooftop he wasn’t just with a fellow Marine, he was with his best friend. Kyle and Nick had met in training. In Afghanistan they patrolled together, day and night, a friendship forged in fire. Kyle says about Nick, “He was my point man, and I loved him like a brother.”
When the grenade landed, other Marines in the compound looked up and saw it happen. Kyle tried to stand. He lunged forward toward that grenade, and then he disappeared into the blast. Keep in mind, at the time, Kyle was just 21 years old. But in that instant, he fulfilled those words of Scripture: “Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
They found Kyle lying face down, directly over the blast area. His helmet was riddled with holes. His gear was melted. Part of his Kevlar vest was blown away. One of the doctors who treated him later said Kyle was “literally wounded from the top of his head to his feet.”
"Hand grenades are one of the most awful weapons of war," the President said. "When it detonates, its fragments shoot out in every direction. And even at a distance, that spray of shrapnel can inflict devastating injuries on the human body. Up close, it’s almost certain death."
The President honored Kyle today because he "faced down that terrible explosive power, that unforgiving force, with his own body -- willingly and deliberately -- to protect a fellow Marine." Kyle was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of others.