Our nation’s highest military award is the Medal of Honor, and they are not handed out on a whim. Kyle Carpenter’s story is like other recipients stories, an incredible brave and selfless act, but during this interview with David Letterman, Carpenter sums up why he and other Marines have such amazing courage.
Carpenter, despite receiving the Medal of Honor, is incredibly humble throughout. It’s apparent that he remembers much of what happened that day, but when Letterman asks him the specific reason as to why he suffered his horrible injuries, Carpenter still only cites “eyewitness accounts, and forensic evidence, and a post-blast analysis.”
And yet, he had jumped on a grenade to save another Marine’s life. Just 26 years old now, Carpenter was 21 years old at the time.
For those that can’t watch the video, Carpenter’s Medal of Honor citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an Automatic Rifleman with Company F, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 1, 1st Marine Division (Forward), I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 21 November 2010. Lance Corporal Carpenter was a member of a platoon-sized coalition force, comprised of two reinforced Marine rifle squads partnered with an Afghan National Army squad. The platoon had established Patrol Base Dakota two days earlier in a small village in the Marjah District in order to disrupt enemy activity and provide security for the local Afghan population. Lance Corporal Carpenter and a fellow Marine were manning a rooftop security position on the perimeter of Patrol Base Dakota when the enemy initiated a daylight attack with hand grenades, one of which landed inside their sandbagged position. Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own safety, Lance Corporal Carpenter moved toward the grenade in an attempt to shield his fellow Marine from the deadly blast. When the grenade detonated, his body absorbed the brunt of the blast, severely wounding him, but saving the life of his fellow Marine. By his undaunted courage, bold fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of almost certain death, Lance Corporal Carpenter reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Carpenter was severely wounded, and suffered a depressed skull fracture requiring brain surgery, multiple broken bones in his face, lost a third of his lower jaw, a collapsed right lung, and shrapnel wounds in his extremities, according to the Marine Corps.
We live in a unique time in American history. We have been at war longer than ever, and in many cases the fighting has been horrific. Our soldiers come back from doing what they are asked, some with visible scars, many without, and they are left to navigate a sub-par healthcare system while trying to find a new purpose in life, a way to make an honorable and to reestablish their place in society.
For all the training we put into our fighters to go to war and vanquish our enemies, the lame follow-up once they come home from doing so is in many ways a disgusting failure of our nation.
Change has to come from the top down to really fix the problems with the Veterans Administration, and to prioritize job placement and facilitate transition to civilian life for our veterans. Regardless of wherever you stand on America’s foreign policy or whatever your personal politics may be, we should demand that our elected officials prioritize taking care of our returning warriors, even over buying new submarines or fighter jets.
We can do better and it is not a liberal or conservative thing, it is just the right thing to do.
And a big thank you to all our veterans from Foxtrot Alpha, you are appreciated.
Contact the author Tyler@Jalopnik.com