Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Yesterday, President Barack Obama awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to Clinton Romesha, a 31-year-old retired staff sergeant in the US Army. In October 2009, Romesha helped to defend Combat Outpost Keating in northeast Afghanistan against an attack by more than 300 Taliban fighters. Before the somber ceremony began in the East Room of the White House, Romesha’s young son, Colin, provided pre-program entertainment for those in attendance.
During the daylong attack on Combat Outpost Keating, the president said, Mr. Romesha, a 31-year-old Army staff sergeant, now retired, showed “conspicuous gallantry” in taking out an enemy machine-gun position, calling in airstrikes that killed 30 Taliban fighters, laying down covering fire to allow three soldiers to run to safety, and scrambling through a fusillade of enemy fire to recover the bodies of fallen American soldiers.
His bravery, Mr. Obama said, helped prevent the outpost from being overrun by Taliban fighters. He was wounded in the neck, shoulder and arms by shrapnel after a rocket-propelled grenade hit a generator he was hiding behind. Eight American service members were killed in the October 2009 battle, one of the most intense of the war.
Before draping the medal, the nation’s highest military honor, around Mr. Romesha’s neck, Mr. Obama recited the former sergeant’s own words to an audience in the East Room of the White House that included military commanders, his family and other members of his company who had come under attack.
“We weren’t going to be beat that day,” Mr. Obama quoted him as saying. “You’re not going to back down in the face of adversity like that. We were just going to win — plain and simple.”
Mr. Romesha stood solemnly next to the president, tearing up at times but also smiling slightly as Mr. Obama told the audience how Mr. Romesha’s young son, Colin, had been racing around the Oval Office. He is the fourth living American soldier from the Afghanistan war to receive the Medal of Honor. He now works for an oil drilling company in North Dakota.
Read more at the New York Times.