Medal of Honor winner took brunt of grenade for pal
WASHINGTON — Cpl. William “Kyle” Carpenter took the brunt of a live grenade lobbed by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2010, saving a fellow Marine's life and nearly losing his own.
On Thursday, the 24-year-old stood beaming and very much alive as President Obama bestowed upon him the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award.
“With that singular act of courage, Kyle, you not only saved your brother in arms, you displayed heroism in the blink of an eye that will inspire for generations valor worthy of our nation's highest military decoration,” Obama said in a ceremony in the ornate East Room at the White House.
Obama said Carpenter was so badly injured he “should not be alive today.” While being treated for his injuries, he went into cardiac arrest and flat-lined three times.
That day in Helmand province, Obama said, Carpenter and Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio, his best friend, were under fire and looking for cover when a live grenade landed near them.
Carpenter has no memory of what happened, but fellow Marines say he lunged toward the grenade and “disappeared into the blast.”
Obama noted, “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.' ” Carpenter was found face-down, over the blast. His helmet was riddled with holes. His gear had melted and part of his Kevlar vest was blown away.
Still conscious, he asked whether Eufrazio was OK, Obama said.
Carpenter spent five weeks in a coma, waking to what the president called a “grueling rehabilitation” that involved two years in the hospital. He had brain surgery to remove shrapnel, nearly 40 operations to repair a collapsed lung, fractured fingers, a shattered right arm broken in more than 30 places and multiple skin grafts.
Obama offered: “He has a new prosthetic eye, a new jaw, new teeth — and one hell of a smile.”
The president said the South Carolina resident and Mississippi native credited his doctors at Walter Reed in Bethesda, Md., for putting him “back together well.”
Obama singled out Carpenter's Bethesda medical team for applause and noted that service members in previous wars likely would have died from such injuries.
He saluted Eufrazio, who he said was grievously wounded in the blast and was watching the ceremony from his family's home in Massachusetts.
“Your perseverance is an inspiration,” Obama said. “And just as Kyle was there for you, our nation will be there for you and your family as you grow stronger in the years ahead.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- At least 2 dead after plane crashes at Kansas airport
- Maine nurse defies Ebola quarantine with bike ride
- Unaccompanied immigrants put heavy strain on schools, charities
- FBI plays IT ‘nerd’ card to con way into Vegas villa
- Ebola virus could overwhelm health care system, AP finds
- N.Y. mother decapitated
- N.M. deputy allegedly said, ‘I shot the guy’
- Terminally ill Oregon woman makes last wishes
- 1st vaccine for deadly form of meningitis approved
- Murky Pentagon contract ends in guilty verdicts
- Ethics office finds ‘substantial reason to believe’ Georgia Republican