Army vet receives the Medal of Honor
BY NEDRA PICKLER Associated Press
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
2/12/13 at 6:39 AM
WASHINGTON - A veteran who helped "defend the indefensible" at a vulnerable Army outpost in Afghanistan received the nation's highest award for military valor Monday at a tearful White House ceremony.
Also honored were eight men who did not survive a Taliban attack.
President Barack Obama lauded former Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha's bravery in fighting back an intense daylong barrage by enemy fighters.
The Taliban descended on Combat Outpost Keating in the mountains near the Pakistan border at 6 a.m. on Oct. 3, 2009, shaking Romesha out of his bed into what Obama said has been called one of the most intense battles of the war in Afghanistan.
The Americans were outmanned more than 300 to 53, but most survived against those odds. "These men were outnumbered, outgunned, and almost overrun," Obama said.
Romesha, 31, listened to the commendation while fighting back tears, sometimes unsuccessfully.
The families of his fallen comrades were sitting together and crying near the back of his East Room audience. Other troops who fought that day also watched as the president placed the medal hanging from a blue ribbon around Romesha's neck.
"I'm feeling conflicted with this medal I now wear," Romesha told reporters outside the West Wing after the ceremony.
"The joy comes from recognition for us doing our jobs as soldiers on distant battlefields, but is countered by the constant reminder of the loss of our battle buddies, my battle buddies, my soldiers, my friends."
Eight U.S. soldiers were killed in the fighting and another 22 wounded, including Romesha, who was peppered in the hip, arm and neck by shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade.
But he fought through his wounds to help lead other soldiers to safety, defend the burning camp from encroaching Taliban fighters, personally taking out at least 10, and retrieve the bodies of the fallen Americans.
President Barack Obama places the Medal of Honor on former Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha on Monday in the East Room of the White House. PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS / AP