As always, it is a privilege to be able to thank and truly honor those who receive this honor while they are still among us. Lance Cpl. William “Kyle” Carpenter’s story is not just about his brave actions on the battlefield, which are truly selfless and stunning. It’s about a harrowing recovery. It’s incredible he’s alive and I’m so glad he is.
“Cpl. William ‘Kyle’ Carpenter should not be alive today,” President Barack Obama told those gathered at the White House Thursday to witness the severely wounded Marine receive the Medal of Honor.
The nation’s highest award for military valor was bestowed on Carpenter for pouncing on an enemy grenade to save a fellow Marine who was standing watch with him on a rooftop in the Marjah district of Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold, on the morning of Nov. 21, 2010.
Carpenter was serving as an automatic rifleman with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, Regimental Combat Team-1, 1st Marine Division (Forward), I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), when an insurgent tossed a grenade near him and his battle buddy, Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio.
The blast seat of the grenade was found under Carpenter’s torso, indicating that he had smothered it intentionally.
Stars and Stripes reports he flatlined several times on the table while medics tried to save him.
Carpenter spent five weeks in a coma and more than two and a half years in the hospital undergoing nearly 40 surgeries — including brain surgery. Doctors had to remove shrapnel from his head and repair a collapsed lung, fractured fingers, and a right arm that was broken in more than 30 places. He received a new prosthetic eye, a new jaw, new teeth, and multiple skin grafts.
The doctors at Walter Reed in Bethesda, Md., “put me back together well,” Carpenter has said.
Martha MacCallum interviewed Carpenter. Listen to the end of this short interview when Carpenter, as these guys always do, shows the incredible humility and mindfulness you always see in true men of valor.
Here are Carpenter’s remarks after the ceremony today. Thank you, Lance Cpl.