The President Awards the Medal of Honor to Corporal William “Kyle” Carpenter

Female Speaker: If you
would, please pray with me. Almighty God, we pause
at the beginning of this historic event to ask
for your presence in this place. Allow your spirit to move
among all of us gathered here, as we give honor
to one who demonstrated virtues on which this
nation was founded. We would be reminded again
of your grace that has allowed this country it’s
freedoms that so many, like corporal Kyle
Carpenter, have scarified to defend. God, we would ask that you
adhere our gratitude for molding Corporal
Carpenter’s character. Through the love of his
gracious family, and the support of his countless
friends and mentors, know of our deep appreciation
for this marines faithfulness, that when
faced that day in March with the crucible
of self preservation or self sacrifice, he responded
with valor or intrepidity, to safeguard the life of
his friend Nick Euphraseo. And now, as the nationals
highest award for such amendable selflessness
and courage is draped around corporal Carpenters neck,
and circle him with the depth of your
steadfast love. Sanctify his innermost and
unspoken thoughts, so that as he carries the
unfathomable weight of this honor, he can be
enabled and emboldened to speak on behalf of, and
encourage those whose untold sacrifices and
humble service need his firm and
compassionate voice. We lift up in prayer all
those who remain in harms way throughout the
globe, and pray your abiding grace on the family and
friends of the marines, sailors, soldiers. Airmen and coastguardsmen
who have given their lives in service of
this country. Bestow your wisdom
on those endeavors. May all of us, as
Americans, yield ourselves to our
divine guidance, and follow the examples as
these, our heroes who loved country, more, more than self,
and mercy more than life. God Bless America. Amen. The President: Thank
you, everybody. Please be seated. On behalf of Michelle and
myself, welcome to the White House. The man you see before you
today, Corporal William Kyle Carpenter,
should not be alive today. Hand grenades are one of the most awful weapons of war. They only weigh about a
pound, but they’re packed with TNT. If one lands nearby, you
have mere seconds to seek cover. When it detonates, its
fragments shoot out in every direction. And even at a distance,
that spray of shrapnel can inflict devastating
injuries on the human body. Up close, it’s almost
certain death. But we are here because
this man, this United States Marine, faced
down that terrible explosive power, that
unforgiving force, with his own body — willingly
and deliberately — to protect a fellow Marine. When that grenade
exploded, Kyle Carpenter’s body took the
brunt of the blast. His injuries were
called “catastrophic.” It seemed as if he
was going to die. While being treated, he
went into cardiac arrest, and three times,
he flatlined. Three times, doctors
brought him back. Along with his parents,
who call Kyle’s survival “our miracle,” we
thank God they did. Because with that singular
act of courage, Kyle, you not only saved your
brother in arms, you displayed a heroism in the
blink of an eye that will inspire for
generations valor worthy of our nation’s highest military
decoration, the Medal of Honor. Now, Kyle and I have
actually met before. During his long recovery
at Walter Reed, he and some of our other wounded
warriors came to the White House to celebrate
the World Series champion, the St. Louis Cardinals. Some of you might be
aware, I am a White Sox fan. (laughter) Kyle likes the Braves. So it was a tough
day for both of us. (laughter) But after the ceremony,
Michelle and I had the chance to meet Kyle. And at the time, he was still undergoing surgeries. But he was up and he
was walking, and he was working his way
toward being independent again, towards the man
you see here today. And, Kyle, the main
message we want to send is, welcome back. We are so proud
to have you here. We just spent some time
not just with Kyle, but also with his
wonderful family. And anybody who has had a
chance to get to know this young man knows
you’re not going to get a better example of what
you want in an American or a Marine. Despite all the attention,
he’s still the same humble guy from Gilbert, South
Carolina, population of about 600 — I
guess today it’s only population 590-something. (laughter) These days he’s also at
the University of South Carolina, “just a
normal college student,” he says, cheering for
the Gamecocks. You’ll notice that Kyle
doesn’t hide his scars; he’s proud of them, and
the service that they represent. And, now, he tells me
this, and so I’m just quoting him —
he says, “the girls definitely like them.” (laughter) So he’s kind of
— he’s working an angle on this thing. (laughter) I wasn’t sure
whether I was supposed to say that in front of mom. (laughter) But
there’s a quote there. In addition to our many
distinguished guests, I want to welcome those who
made this man the Marine that he is — Kyle’s
father, Jim; Kyle’s lovely mom, Robin; and
his brothers, Price, and Peyton, one of whom is
going to be joining Kyle at South Carolina, another
Gamecock, and then we’ve got one who’s
going to be at The Citadel. We also have Kyle’s Marine
brothers who served with him in Afghanistan and
through his recovery. And I also want to welcome
the members of the Medal of Honor Society,
whose ranks Kyle joins today. Kyle and his fellow
Marines served during the surge of forces that I
ordered to Afghanistan early in my presidency. Their mission was to drive
the Taliban out of their strongholds,
protect the Afghan people and give them a chance to
reclaim their communities. Kyle and his platoon were
in Helmand province in Marja, pushing their way
across open fields and muddy canals, bearing
their heavy packs even as it could heat up
to 115 degrees. In one small village, they
turned a dusty compound into their base. The insurgents nearby gave
their answer with sniper fire, and automatic weapon fire, and rocket-propelled grenades. That morning, Kyle said, “our alarm clock was
AK-47 fire.” Some of the men were by
their bunks, gearing up for another day. Some were heating
up their MREs. Some were in makeshift ops
centers — a simple mud building —
planning the day’s patrols. And up on the roof, behind
a circle of sandbags, two Marines manned their
posts — Kyle, and Lance Corporal
Nicholas Eufrazio. The compound started
to take fire. Seeking cover, Kyle and
Nick laid down low on their backs behind
those sandbags. And then the grenade
landed with a thud, its pin already pulled. It was about to explode. And Kyle has no memory
of what happened next. What we do know is that
there on that rooftop he wasn’t just with a fellow
Marine, he was with his best friend. Kyle and Nick had
met in training. In Afghanistan they
patrolled together, day and night, a friendship
forged in fire. Kyle says about Nick, “He
was my point man, and I loved him like a brother.” When the grenade landed,
other Marines in the compound looked up
and saw it happen. Kyle tried to stand. He lunged forward toward
that grenade, and then he disappeared
into the blast. Keep in mind, at the time, Kyle was just 21 years old. But in that instant, he
fulfilled those words of Scripture: “Greater love
hath no man than this; that a man lay down his
life for his friends.” They found Kyle lying face
down, directly over the blast area. His helmet was
riddled with holes. His gear was melted. Part of his Kevlar
vest was blown away. One of the doctors who
treated him later said Kyle was “literally wounded
from the top of his head to his feet.” And for a moment, Kyle
was still conscious. His eyes were open
but he couldn’t see. Kyle remembers “everything
went white.” And yet, even then, his
thoughts were not of himself. One of the Marines who was
there remembers how Kyle kept asking one question, and that was whether Nick was okay. And then, as Kyle’s
strength drained away, he sensed the end was coming. So according to Kyle’s
memories, “My last thought (was to) make
peace with God. I asked for forgiveness. I was trying to make the
best and most of my last few seconds
here on Earth.” The Medal of Honor is
presented for gallantry on the battlefield. But today, we also
recognize Kyle Carpenter for his valor since in the
hard fight for recovery. Eventually, Kyle woke up
after five weeks in a coma. I want you to consider
what Kyle has endured just to stand here today —
more than two and a half years in the hospital. Grueling rehabilitation. Brain surgery to remove
shrapnel from his head. Nearly 40 surgeries to
repair a collapsed lung, fractured fingers, a
shattered right arm broken in more than 30
places, multiple skin grafts. He has a new prosthetic
eye, a new jaw, new teeth — and one hell
of a smile. (laughter) And Kyle is the first to
give credit elsewhere. His doctors at Bethesda,
he says, “put me back together well.” Today is also a reminder
that in past wars, somebody with injuries as
severe as Kyle’s probably wouldn’t have survived. So many of our wounded
warriors from today’s wars are alive not just because
of remarkable advances in technology, but
primarily because of the extraordinary dedication
and skill of our military and our VA medical
professionals. So we need to keep doing
everything we can in our power to give our wounded
warriors and those who treat them the support
that they need. And I think this is a
wonderful opportunity to ask doctors Debra Malone
and Lauren Greer, and the rest of Kyle’s medical
team who are here to please stand. I see their amazing
work every time I visit Bethesda, every time I
visited Walter Reed. It’s pretty rare where
you’ve got a job where you just know
you’re doing God’s work every single day. And they do an incredible
job, so thank you. (applause) Thank you for
the miracles you work for our wounded troops
and veterans. Now, Kyle says he’ll wear
this medal for all who serve and for those
who didn’t make it back, and for those who
struggle still. So today, we also honor
two members of his team who made the ultimate
sacrifice in that deployment: Kyle’s friends
Lance Corporal Timothy M. Jackson of Corbin,
Kentucky, and Lance Corporal Dakota R. Huse of Greenwood,
Louisiana. And our thoughts are also
with the Marine who Kyle saved that day,
his brother, Nick. I had the opportunity to
meet Nick as well nearly two years after the blast
on one of my visits to Walter Reed. Nick also suffered
grievous wounds. As a result of traumatic
brain injury, he couldn’t speak for more
than a year. He also endured
multiple surgeries. Today, his recovery
continues. He lives at home with
his family in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where he is
watching this ceremony. So, Nick, on behalf of all
of us, I want you to know we honor your
sacrifice as well. Your perseverance
is an inspiration. And just as Kyle was there
for you, our nation will be there for you and
your family as you grow stronger in the
years ahead. If any of our wounded
warriors seek an example — let me amend that — if
any American seeks a model of the strength and
resilience that define us as a people, including
this newest 9/11 generation, I want
you to consider Kyle. After everything he’s
been through, he skis, he snowboards, he’s jumped
from a plane — with a parachute, thankfully. (laughter) He trudged
through a 6-mile Mud Run, completed the Marine Corps
Marathon, says he wants to do a triathlon. He’s a motivational
speaker, an advocate for his fellow
wounded warriors. He’s thinking about
majoring in psychology so he can use his own
experiences to help others. He got stellar grades. And, by the way, he’s only
24 years old, and says, “I am just getting started.” In other words, Kyle is a
shining example of what our nation needs to
encourage — these veterans who come home and
then use their incredible skills and talents to
keep our country strong. And we can all learn
from Kyle’s example. As we prepare for the
reading of the citation, I’d like to close with his
own words — a message, I think, for every American. “It took a life-changing
event to get me to truly appreciate the
precious and amazing life I have been blessed with. Please take it from me,
enjoy every day to the fullest, don’t take life
too seriously, always try to make it count,
appreciate the small and simple things, be kind and
help others, let the ones you love always
know you love them, and when things get hard trust
there is a bigger plan and that you will be stronger for it.” Pretty good message. Corporal William Kyle
Carpenter should not be alive today, but the fact
that he is gives us reason to trust that there is
indeed a bigger plan. So God bless you, Kyle. God bless all who serve
and protect the precious and amazing life
that we are blessed with. May God continue to bless
and keep strong the United States of America. Semper Fi. (applause) Military Aide: The
President of the United States, in the name of
the Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor to Lance Corporal William Kyle Carpenter,
United States Marine Corps, 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, 2nd Battalion,
9th Marines, Regimental Combat Team One, 1st
Marine Division (Forward), 1st 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 Marja 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 towards 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. (applause) Female Speaker:
Let us pray. Gracious God, may this
ceremony serve as a reminder of the
responsibility that comes with receiving the
grace gift of freedom. And as we depart the
hallowed all, and return to our daily lives,
we pray that you would enable and empower us, that when
called upon, we would represent the resolute
fearlessness of corporal Kyle Carpenter, and all of
us who wear the stars of valor to this
country. It’s in this strength of
your name that we Pray. Amen. The President: Well,
that brings us to the conclusion of this
ceremony, but not the reception and party. And so I want to thank
everybody again for being here, especially
Kyle’s wonderful family and his parents. And I understand that the
food here at the White House is pretty good — (laughter) — so I already told Kyle’s
brothers that they should be chowing down. But that goes for
everybody else as well — and I think the
drinks are free. I don’t know what —
although it’s still early in the afternoon. Thank you very
much, everybody. Let’s give one more round of applause to our latest Medal of Honor winner Kyle Carpenter (applause)

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