Retired Marine Corps Cpl. William “Kyle” Carpenter received the nation’s highest military honor from President Barack Obama at the White House June 19.
Carpenter received the Medal of Honor for his actions while deployed in Marjah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2010. He became the third Marine and the 15th overall recipient of the medal for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
“With that singular act of courage, Kyle, you not only saved your brother in arms, you displayed heroism in a blink of an eye that will inspire for generations — valor worthy of our nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor,” Obama said.
On Nov. 21, 2010, Taliban insurgents initiated an attack on Carpenter’s squad, part of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment. Carpenter, the squad automatic rifleman for his fire team, and Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio were holding a rooftop security position when a hand grenade was thrown their way.
Without hesitation, Carpenter reacted, rushing toward the grenade in an attempt to shield his brother-in-arms from the blast.
Carpenter and Eufrazio survived the attack but not without sustaining severe injuries. After two and a half years at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Carpenter was medically retired from the Marine Corps on July 30, 2013.
“You notice Kyle doesn’t hide his scars. He’s proud of them and the service they represent,” Obama said.
Carpenter was born in Flowood, Miss., and resides in South Carolina. He is now a full-time student at the University of South Carolina.
Carpenter’s awards include the Purple Heart Medal, the Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Navy Unit Commendation Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with one bronze campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with one bronze star, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal International Security Assistance Force, and now the Medal of Honor.
Created during the American Civil War, the Medal of Honor was and is awarded for gallantry in combat. Over the years, the honor evolved. Now a much more strict and regulated selection process with a separate medal for the Army, Navy and Air Force exists. In the medal’s history, there have only been 3,469 recipients.