During 2019, Freedoms Foundation and the Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove are paying tribute to the living recipients of the Medal of Honor on the anniversary of the actions for which they earned the nation’s highest award for valor. The series continues with an ambush of U.S. and Afghan forces on Nov. 9, 2007, by the Taliban in a steep, rugged mountain area of eastern Afghanistan.
Kyle J. White’s Medal of Honor citation reads:
“Specialist Kyle J. White distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a radio telephone operator with Company C, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment, 173d Airborne Brigade, during combat operations against an armed enemy in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on Nov. 9, 2007.
“On that day, Specialist White and his comrades were returning to Bella Outpost from a shura with Aranas Village elders. As the soldiers traversed a narrow path surrounded by mountainous, rocky terrain, they were ambushed by enemy forces from elevated positions.
“Pinned against a steep mountain face, Specialist White and his fellow soldiers were completely exposed to enemy fire. Specialist White returned fire and was briefly knocked unconscious when a rocket-propelled grenade impacted near him. When he regained consciousness, another round impacted near him, embedding small pieces of shrapnel in his face.
“Shaking off his wounds, Specialist White noticed one of his comrades lying wounded nearby. Without hesitation, Specialist White exposed himself to enemy fire in order to reach the soldier and provide medical aid. After applying a tourniquet, Specialist White moved to an injured Marine, similarly providing aid and comfort until the Marine succumbed to his wounds.
“Specialist White then returned to the soldier and discovered that he had been wounded again. Applying his own belt as an additional tourniquet, Specialist White was able to stem the flow of blood and save the soldier’s life.
“Noticing that his and the other soldier’s radios were inoperative, Specialist White exposed himself to enemy fire yet again in order to secure a radio from a deceased comrade. He then provided information and updates to friendly forces, allowing precision airstrikes to stifle the enemy’s attack and ultimately permitting medical evacuation aircraft to rescue him, his fellow soldiers, Marines and Afghan Army soldiers.
“Specialist Kyle J. White’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company C, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment, 173d Airborne Brigade and the United States Army.”
White was awarded the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama on May 13, 2014. Among those in attendance during the ceremony at the White House was former Specialist Kain Schilling, the soldier White had saved by applying the two tourniquets.
“I’m here today because of Kyle’s actions,” Schilling told reporters that day. “He not only saved my life, but the lives of many others.”
The Stars and Stripes story on the medal ceremony notes:
Before presenting the award, Obama pointed out something that White wears every day.
“If you look closely at [White] on his way to work, you’ll notice a piece of the war that he carries with him, tucked under his shirt sleeve: a stainless-steel bracelet around his wrist, etched with the names of his six fallen comrades, who will always be with him,” Obama said.
The six — First Lt. Matthew Ferrara; Sgt. Jeffery Mersman; Spec. Sean Langevin; Spec. Lester Roque; Private First Class Joseph Lancour, and Marine Sgt. Phillip Bocks — were White’s battle buddies who died in the ambush
Schilling made the bracelet for White and wears an identical one himself.
“I just kind of wear it as a reminder. And it kind of motivates me as well. It’s like no matter what is going on in my life, like if something is hard … you look down and you’d be like, you know, these guys, if they were here right now they would not be complaining,” White told Stars and Stripes.
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