Corporal William Kyle Carpenter, a rifleman who shielded a
fellow Marine from a grenade during a firefight in Afghanistan in
2010, received the Medal of Honor from President Obama on June 19,
"Corporal William Kyle Carpenter should not be alive today," Mr.
Obama said during the ceremony. "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."
He is the 8th living recipient of the medal for service in
Afghanistan or Iraq. The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest
In his platoon's second day of heavy fighting with the Taliban,
Corporal Carpenter, then a lance corporal, was stationed on top of
a mud hut, alongside Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio, when a grenade
landed on the rooftop. Corporal Carpenter leapt between the
explosive and his fellow Marine, absorbing the blast with his
Sgt. Jared Lilly, a lance corporal in Corporal Carpenter's
platoon, was one of the first Marines on the scene after the
grenade detonated. "When I got to Kyle, he was face down, so I
grabbed his arm to try and roll him over and instantly realized his
arm was broken. Then, I grabbed his flak jacket and he was just
dead weight," Sergeant Lilly said. "When we rolled him over, that's
when I realized how catastrophic his injuries were."
Several Marines applied pressure and tourniquets to his arms
when Corporal Carpenter regained some consciousness.
"I remember my buddies yelling at me, and it sounded like they
were far away, and I remember them yelling, 'You're gonna make it,
you're gonna make it!' I just kept
trying to tell them that I was going to die," Corporal Carpenter
said in an interview last month. "The last thought that I had
I made peace with God." Several weeks later, he woke up in
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Much of Corporal Carpenter's face was reconstructed during his
recovery at the hospital, since the blast blew away "pretty much
everything from the eyes down," he said. He lost his right eye.
Doctors removed shrapnel from his head and repaired his shattered
right arm, which was broken in more than 30 places.
Corporal Eufrazio also suffered serious injuries, including a
traumatic brain injury that left him unable to speak. He is now
recovering at home in Plymouth, Mass.
After the ceremony, Corporal Carpenter said he would wear the
medal on behalf of his fellow Marines. "As the president put the
Medal of Honor around my neck, I felt the history and the weight of
a nation," he said in a brief statement. "I will wear it for those
who have been wounded on distant lands who still continue to fight
in battle, and through long and difficult days of recovery here at
home. And for those who have given it all, I can never express in
words what you mean for this nation."
After two and a half years in the hospital, Corporal Carpenter,
now 24, was released in July 2013 and he medically retired from the
Marines. Three weeks later, he attended his first class at the
University of South Carolina, where he is a full-time student and
considering a major in psychology. He completed his first marathon
"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," Mr. Obama said. "After everything
he's been through, he skis, he snowboards, he's jumped from a plane
- with a parachute, thankfully."
Carpenter was born here in Flowood, and spent his youth living
in Rankin County. He now resides in South Carolina.