A former Army staff sergeant who participated in one of the deadliest battles faced by U.S. forces in Afghanistan is set to become the fourth living soldier, and the 11th in total, to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The White House announced that 31-year-old Clinton L. Romesha (pictured) will receive the nation's highest award for valor from President Obama during a February 11 White House ceremony.
Romesha was a section leader with Bravo Troop, 3-61 Cavalry, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Combat Outpost Keating in eastern Afghanistan when the outpost was attacked on October 3, 2009 by some 300 enemy firing rocket-propelled grenades, anti-aircraft guns, and mortars. His actions were instrumental in pushing back the enemy, who vastly outnumbered the American forces, and in securing the position against further assault.
For the first three hours during the infamous battle, chronicled in the book The Outpost, by Jake Tapper, the enemy rained mortars down on the outpost, defended by 50 Americans, 20 Afghans, and two Latvian soldiers. The Afghan troops quickly abandoned the position they were assigned to guard, allowing the enemy to breach the perimeter and set fire to the outpost, destroying nearly 70 percent of it.
But Romesha and a group of fellow soldiers regrouped, fighting back even as enemy fire rained down on them, and turned back the overwhelming tide.
Romesha's Medal of Honor citation recounts that the staff sergeant moved along the battlefield through intense enemy fire, seeking reinforcements at a barracks before returning to action. With the help of an assistant gunner, identified in The Outpost as Corporal Justin Gregory, Romesha “took out an enemy machine gun team,” according to the citation. While Romesha was engaging a second enemy group, “the generator he was using for cover was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, inflicting him with shrapnel wounds.”
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