27 August 2013

Medal of Honor

Staff Sgt. Ty Carter receives Medal of Honor. (credit: Pool)

“I am an American soldier, just like thousands who have served, will serve and are continuing to serve this great nation.”

- Staff Sergeant Ty Carter

Yesterday, SSG Carter received the Medal of Honor for his actions at COP Keating in 2009. Leo Shane of Stars and Stripes reports:

Carter is the second Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Kamdesh, one of the few fights in Afghanistan to catch the attention of the American public. Clint Romesha received his award earlier this year, for fighting done on the other side of the remote Army firebase.

On Oct. 3, 2009, more than 300 Taliban fighters descended on Combat Outpost Keating, a soon-to-be-abandoned site near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, in a well-coordinated ambush. Eight U.S. soldiers would be killed in the daylong battle, and 22 wounded.

When the fighting began — a hail of bullets from above, almost immediately overwhelming the 54-man force inside the COP — then-Spc. Carter was asleep. He rushed into battle wearing a tan T-shirt and PT shorts but did manage to grab his body armor.

He spent most of the day out of uniform, just trying to survive.

Carter and three others were pinned down around a sandbagged Humvee serving as a guard tower, dodging between cover as the enemy advanced.

He watched two friends die in the early assault and two more die trying to support his position. Another, Spc. Stephan Mace, was gravely wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade and left stranded in the middle of the kill zone.


Carter ran onto exposed ground to pull the almost lifeless Mace to safety. He had to make two trips — out to stabilize the fallen soldier, back to coordinate cover fire with Larson, out again to drag Mace across the kill zone back to relative safety.

On his next scavenging mission, Carter found a fallen comrade’s radio and managed to connect with the men across the COP. They set up an evacuation plan, got themselves out of the Humvee prison and took Mace to the medics.

“I had told myself long before that if I ended up in that kind of situation, I wouldn’t let fear make my choices for me,” Carter said. “All I thought about was supporting [our] men.”


Carter still describes his actions largely as a failure, especially when reflecting on Mace’s death. Mace’s mother, Vanessa Adelson, disagrees.

“My son didn’t die in the dirt alone, because of what Ty did,” she told reporters last week. “After seeing another soldier get killed trying to rescue my son, Ty still went out there to save him.

“Because of what he did, Stephan had a few more hours with his brothers. He was able to speak with them (before he was evacuated). He was joking about getting a beer with the surgeons afterwards.

“Because of Ty’s actions, my son died thinking that he was coming home. He was at peace.”

Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, part of the White Platoon fire team, 8-1 Cavalry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, provides overwatch on a road near Dahla Dam, Afghanistan, July 2012. COURTESY OF THE U.S. ARMY.

Carter didn’t attend Romesha’s Medal of Honor ceremony, saying the 4-year-old battle still felt too raw for him. He talks about the nine losses his troop suffered in that battle — fellow soldier Ed Faulker Jr. battled PTSD and took his own life a year after the attack.

He has been open about his own struggles with PTSD, and said he hopes to use the new honor as a forum to talk about the stress of war and the stigma of seeking mental help. He deployed again to Afghanistan last year and has been in counseling to help him handle the battlefield horrors he can never unsee.

“America’s citizen soldiers are doing amazing things to make them proud,” he said. “But people need to be more aware of the wounds of combat, both the visual wounds and the unseen ones.”

That’s the man he wants people to see receiving the nation’s highest military honor: a U.S. soldier who did his job and is struggling with the aftermath.

There's lots more to the article here.

And here are SSG Carter's remarks after yesterday's ceremony. MUST SEE.

Oh beautiful, for heroes proved,
In liberating strife,
Who more than self, our country loved,
And mercy more than life,
America, America, may God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain devined.

(From Ray Charles' rendition of America the Beautiful)

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