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Lance Corporal Carpenter’s Selfless Service and Heroic Actions
Lance Corporal William Kyle Carpenter displayed the highest level of sacrifice and selfless service for his actions in Afghanistan; resulting in saving the lives of his fellow Marines, and earning the highest Military award. The two distinctive factors, disregard for his own life, and the protection for his squad, is the reason I believe he was the most deserving recipient of the Medal of Honor. Instead of taking cover and saving his own life, his quick actions to shield the grenade blast from his squad with his own body enhances the level of commitment to his team. This level of decisive action and gallantry sets Lance Corporal Carpenter ahead of other recipients.
Lance Corporal Carpenter is the youngest living recipient to receive the Medal of Honor. He is among 13 living recipients to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan according to a report from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society (CMOHS.org – Living Recipients, n.d.). In order to be considered for this Honor, a service member must have distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States (Medal of Honor, n.d., para a).
Lance Corporal Carpenter was born on 17 October 1989 in Jackson, Mississippi. He spent most of his childhood in Jackson, Mississippi with his parents, Jim and Robin, and his two younger brothers, Bryce and Payton. In an interview by an unknown source, Lance Corporal Carpenter stated his family moved multiple times before settling down in South Carolina. “I was born in Mississippi, but we definitely call it, South Carolina, home,” stated Carpenter (Library of Congress, n.d.). He goes on to mention that his hobbies included anything that drove his mother crazy but enjoyed sports, anything outdoors, and just being active.
Lance Corporal Carpenter enlisted in the delayed entry program in February of 2009. In March of 2009, he graduated Recruit Training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina (William Kyle Carpenter, n.d.). After finishing the School of Infantry at Camp Geiger, North Carolina, he was assigned to Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, 6th Marine Regiment. He served as a Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) gunner from September 2009 to November 2010 (William Kyle Carpenter, n.d.). In July of 2010, Lance Corporal Carpenter and his company were deployed to Marjah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (William Kyle Carpenter, n.d.).
During his deployment, Fox Company engaged the enemy in multiple conflicts in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. He tells a story titled A birthday, a grenade and a chicken [sic] (Carpenter, 2018) where the enemy started launching grenades towards their location. Lance Corporal Carpenter goes on to talk about the comical, yet terrifying feeling of a grenade exploding near him killing a local chicken. Contemplating the recent event, he was thankful that it wasn’t him or any of his fellow Marines hit by that grenade.
Little did he know, that grenade was a prelude of the life-changing event that happened on November 21, 2010. In a small village, nicknamed Shadier by Fox Company Marines, Lance Corporal Carpenter and his squad were pulling security on top of a roof. The Taliban threw a grenade onto the rooftop in hopes of killing him and his squad. Without hesitation, Lance Corporal Carpenter rushed towards the grenade and shielded the grenade with his body to protect his best friend, Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio and the rest of his squad. In a news article published in June 2014, medical care started just moments after the grenade blast (Lamothe, 2014). Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Christopher Frend was called to the rooftop for medical aid to Lance Corporal Carpenter. His body was still smoking by the time medical aid arrived.
In an article from the Washington Post, it stated the scene was horrific as Lance Corporal Carpenter’s body sustained catastrophic wounds. Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Christopher Frend stated in the Washington Post article, “He had pieces of his forearms missing,” (Lamothe, 2014, para 9). The Marines fought tirelessly to stabilize Lance Corporal Carpenter before air departure to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. Once stable enough for transport, Lance Corporal Carpenter was flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for further medical operations.
In an interview with the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, Former President Barrack Obama stated, “While being treated, he went into cardiac arrest, and three times he flatlined [sic]. Three times, doctors brought him back,” (Harper, 2014, para 9). Lance Corporal Carpenter was later transported to the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Delaware where he would endure over 40surgeries. He underwent various reconstruction surgeries along with multiple skin grafts.
After spending two months at Walter Reed Medical Center, Lance Corporal Carpenter was transferred to the Veterans Association (VA) Hospital in Richmond, Virginia to start his recovery phase. In an interview with the Library of Congress Experiencing War, he commented that he was dedicated to running a marathon and go skydiving (Library of Congress, n.d.). He goes on to state that the time he spent in the hospital gave him a deeper meaning to life and a wider perspective about his journey. Lance Corporal Carpenter was determined to overcome his past experience and not let it limit him in any physical manner. Once cleared by his medical staff, Lance Corporal Carpenter went on to complete two marathons in Washington D.C., and went skydiving with a team called Team Fast Tracks (Library of Congress, n.d.).
In that same interview, he mentioned he heard rumors that he was being considered for the Medal of Honor. In a South Carolina legislature hearing, the Senate and House passed a bill on March 3, 2011, recognizing Lance Corporal Carpenter’s action in Afghanistan. Nearly four years after the attack in Helmand Province, Lance Corporal Carpenter was awarded the Medal of Honor by former President Barack Obama in the White House. While speaking at the ceremony, former President Barack Obama stated, “With that singular act of courage, Kyle, you not only saved your brother in arms, you displayed heroism in a blink of an eye that will inspire for generations — valor worthy of our nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor,” (Keenan, 2014, para 3).
After the Marines medically retired Lance Corporal Carpenter, he began his inspirational journey across the country. He made appearances on the David Letterman show, thrown the first pitch at Major League games, and stared in a Starbucks commercial, (Beautiful Burden,2018). He is quoted to say, “Being a Medal of Honor recipient is deep and difficult to answer,” (Beautiful Burden, 2018). Lance Corporal Carpenter not only travels the country as a motivational speaker but is a full-time student at the University of South Carolina where he is considering majoring in psychology (Stars and Stripes, n.d.).
Lance Corporal Carpenter’s selfless service and honorable actions in Afghanistan uphold the highest level of dedication to his fellow Marines, the Corps, and the United States. His quick actions shielding his squad from the grenade resulted in the safe return of the Marines on the rooftop in Shadier village. Even though he was medically retired from the Marine Corps, he still dedicates his life to inspiring Military members and civilians. His actions taken on November 21, 2010 exemplifies and exceeds the requirements to receive the Medal of Honor and is why I believe he is the most deserving recipient throughout history.
- 2011-2012 Bill 640: Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter – South Carolina Legislature Online. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess119_2011-2012/bills/640.htm
- The Beautiful Burden – Kyle Carpenter. (2018, June 18). Retrieved from https://williamkylecarpenter.com/2018/06/18/the-beautiful-burden/
- A birthday, a grenade and a chicken – Kyle Carpenter. (2018, October 22). Retrieved from https://williamkylecarpenter.com/2018/10/22/a-birthday-a-grenade-and-a-chicken/
- CMOHS.org – Archive Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cmohs.org/medal-statistics.php
- CMOHS.org – Living Recipients. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cmohs.org/living-recipients.php
- CMOHS.org – Medal Frequently Asked Questions. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cmohs.org/medal-faq.php
- Harper, J. (2014, June 19). Incredible survival, inspiring recovery: Carpenter receives his Medal of Honor. Retrieved from https://www.stripes.com/news/us/incredible-survival-inspiring-recovery-carpenter-receives-his-medal-of-honor-1.289739
- Incredible survival, inspiring recovery: Carpenter receives his Medal of Honor. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.stripes.com/news/us/incredible-survival-inspiring-recovery-carpenter-receives-his-medal-of-honor-1.289739
- Interview Transcript: William Kyle Carpenter: Veterans History Project (Library of Congress. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp-stories/loc.natlib.afc2001001.106207/transcript?ID=mv0001
- Keenan, E. (2014, June 19). Marine corporal receives Medal of Honor. Retrieved from https://www.marines.mil/News/News-Display/Article/496617/marine-corporal-receives-medal-of-honor/
- Lamothe, D. (2014, June 18). I had to fight my little inner demon: The scramble to save wounded Marine hero Kyle Carpenter. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2014/06/18/i-had-to-fight-my-little-inner-demon-the-scramble-to-save-wounded-marine-hero-kyle-carpenter/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.74eadecc003d
- Medal of Honor. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CFR-2002-title32-vol3/html/CFR-2002-title32-vol3-sec578-4.htm
- William Kyle Carpenter. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://aherousa.com/blog/William-Kyle-Carpenter
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