Cpl Kyle Carpenter only had a split second to make a choice. He could either think only of himself and flee from a dangerous situation or literally jump headlong into danger in order to protect his fellow Marine.
Cpl Carpenter chose the latter.
On November 21st of 2010, Carpenter and his squad were securing Patrol Base Dakota against the Taliban in the southern part of Afghanistan. It was in this push to secure a stronger presence in the volatile region where he and fellow Marine, LCpl Nicholas Eufrazio, found themselves on a rooftop in an overwatch position. Around 10am insurgents pressed an attack and started throwing grenades, one of which landed in the middle of Carpenter and Eufrazio’s rooftop nest.
It was in that split moment that Carpenter leapt into action and “distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”
Carpenter threw his body in front of Eufrazio and took the brunt of the explosion squarely himself.
His sacrifice included the loss of his right eye, injuring his left, blowing out both of his eardrums, most of his teeth were knocked out with much of his jaw with it. His right arm was shattered, his left arm, wrist and hand had multiple breaks, his right lung collapsed and he had shrapnel wounds in his legs.
Being a hero isn’t all about Hollywood endings and parades. There comes a cost with being a hero:
Before losing consciousness Carpenter recounts the last things he remembered: The impact felt like his face and body had been hit with a two-by-four, he said, his vision was blurry and there was a loud ringing in his ears. The blood felt like warm water flowing over his face, and as he ran his tongue around his mouth, he couldn’t feel his jaw.
Six weeks later Carpenter awoke at Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda Maryland. For the next two and half years doctors rebuilt Carpenter from the fragments that remained of his broken body. They rebuilt his face, his teeth and save his arm (photo above).
For his gallantry above and beyond the call, Kyle Carpenter will be presented with the Medal of Honor on June 19th 2014.
During this upcoming memorial day, remember the brave men and women of the US Armed forces who go out day after day and put themselves to the hazard so that we all can enjoy our picnics and cook outs.
Not to steer this article away from Cpl Carpenter’s gallantry but I would like to point out that there are people out there that would hijack the laurels that men like Kyle Carpenter richly deserve and these people would pass themselves off as heroes for personal benefit.
For some reason, our 2nd Amendment rights are ready to be whittled away with glee by some, yet when the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 was passed criminalizing those who would fraudulently pass themselves off as heroes, the Supreme Court ultimately struck the law down in 2012 declaring that being a lying charlatan is somehow protected free speech.
To me, it is about as free of speech as slander or libel is. In this regard those who would attempt to steal the honor that such medals and accolades represent do damage both the the awards themselves and to the recipients thereof. Heroes like Carpenter and the other 15 Medal of Honor Recipients of the recent Iraq and Afghanistan Wars do not deserve to have their ranks sullied by those who would claim the honor while never having given the sacrifice.
You want to look a true hero in the eye? Take a gander at Kyle Carpenter:
You can only look him in the eye because he gave the other one to save his friend’s life by JUMPING IN FRONT OF A GRENADE.
Anyone who would diminish that or try and leech onto such bravery is the lowest kind of sleaze.
To all the true heroes in uniform like Cpl Carpenter, who don’t do it for the medals or the recognition but for the guy next to him, carry on.
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