Our Patriot Veterans Keep America Great Every Day
To thank a veteran, strive to be a citizen worthy of their sacrifice.
“I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means.” —John Adams (1776)
Next Monday marks the 101st Veterans Day, when we pause at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in honor of all American veterans.
In the spirit of this national observance, allow me to tell you a bit about one veteran who represents the best of all American warriors.
The 38-year-old California native wanted to join the Army when he was 17, but his father, a 4th Infantry Division veteran with two tours in Vietnam, refused to sign his age waiver. He told Clint, “If you do this and get deployed, you will see and do things no man should have to, and I will not sign you up for that.” At 18, Clint enlisted.
In 2009, having already completed a tour in Kosovo and two for Operation Iraqi Freedom, Clint was on his fourth deployment, this one with Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and deployed to Combat Outpost (COP) Keating in eastern Afghanistan. Clint, who was at that time a staff sergeant, recalls that when he arrived at Outpost Keating, one of the soldiers his group relieved had carved into a board under a sun tarp, “It doesn’t get any better.” He told his men, “It won’t, because we’re going to make every day the best!”
Clint believes that all of us are born with a particular talent and must strive to find it. “I think my specific talent,” he says, “is to take men overseas and lead them in combat.”
On 3 October 2009, in the Battle of Kamdesh, he put his talent to the ultimate test. The AP described the battle as follows: “Hundreds of insurgents armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades stormed a pair of remote outposts near the Pakistan border, killing eight U.S. soldiers. The fierce gunbattle, which erupted at dawn Saturday in the Kamdesh district of mountainous Nuristan province … raged throughout the day.”
A force of more than 300 Taliban insurgents attacked COP Keating, he rallied his men, leading the counterattack while directing close air support and, notably, providing suppressive fire in order to get to his wounded men — despite being wounded himself. He continued to retrieve the wounded in the line of fire for 14 hours. It was the deadliest battle in more than a year.
As with all modern citations for Medal of Honor recipients, Clint’s citation begins: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty…”
“On that morning, Staff Sergeant Romesha and his comrades awakened to an attack by an estimated 300 enemy fighters occupying the high ground on all four sides of the complex, employing concentrated fire from recoilless rifles, rocket propelled grenades, anti-aircraft machine guns, mortars and small arms fire. Staff Sergeant Romesha moved uncovered under intense enemy fire to conduct a reconnaissance of the battlefield and seek reinforcements from the barracks before returning to action with the support of an assistant gunner. Staff Sergeant Romesha took out an enemy machine gun team and, while engaging a second, the generator he was using for cover was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, inflicting him with shrapnel wounds.
"Undeterred by his injuries, Staff Sergeant Romesha continued to fight and upon the arrival of another soldier to aid him and the assistant gunner, he again rushed through the exposed avenue to assemble additional soldiers. Staff Sergeant Romesha then mobilized a five-man team and returned to the fight equipped with a sniper rifle. With complete disregard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Romesha continually exposed himself to heavy enemy fire, as he moved confidently about the battlefield engaging and destroying multiple enemy targets, including three Taliban fighters who had breached the combat outpost’s perimeter. While orchestrating a successful plan to secure and reinforce key points of the battlefield, Staff Sergeant Romesha maintained radio communication with the tactical operations center.
"As the enemy forces attacked with even greater ferocity, unleashing a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and recoilless rifle rounds, Staff Sergeant Romesha identified the point of attack and directed air support to destroy over 30 enemy fighters. After receiving reports that seriously injured soldiers were at a distant battle position, Staff Sergeant Romesha and his team provided covering fire to allow the injured soldiers to safely reach the aid station. Upon receipt of orders to proceed to the next objective, his team pushed forward 100 meters under overwhelming enemy fire to recover and prevent the enemy fighters from taking the bodies of the fallen comrades.
"Staff Sergeant Romesha’s heroic actions throughout the day-long battle were critical in suppressing an enemy that had far greater numbers. His extraordinary efforts gave Bravo Troop the opportunity to regroup, reorganize and prepare for the counterattack that allowed the Troop to account for its personnel and secure Combat Post Keating. Staff Sergeant Romesha’s discipline and extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty reflect great credit upon himself, Bravo Troop, 3d Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and the United States Army.”
Clint began that day with 49 men. Before it ended, eight of them would perish. In addition to his Medal of Honor, nine other soldiers received the Silver Star, the third-highest decoration for valor in combat.
In Red Platoon, he wrote: “There are eight other guys with whom I served to whom that [Medal of Honor] rightly belongs, because heroes — true heroes, the men whose spirit the medal embodies — don’t ever come home. By that definition, I’m not a true hero. Instead, I’m a custodian and a caretaker. I hold the medal, and everything it represents, on behalf of those who are its rightful owners.”
Of that battle, Clint says, “I felt like that day was the first day in 10 years of military service that I did my job. This was the ultimate test of everything I had done in the service, and it all led to this day when it was you versus them, and let’s see who comes out on top.”
Clint exhibits the distinct and quiet humility of every recipient I have met, often telling others that he’s “just a regular guy.” He says he was simply at a juncture of place and time that required him to do something extraordinary — actions that he says most of his military compatriots and many other Americans would also have done.
Of being viewed by others as a hero, he says, “I’m not. I don’t feel that way. I never have. I always thought of myself as a warrior.” Clint is certainly that, but he was also moved to heroic action, as most decorated veterans are, by “love for your fellow brother.”
He says, “Motivational love will get people out of a foxhole and running for the machine gun every day.”
And, he adds: “That’s the biggest difference between what we are as Americans and what the rest of the world is — we do it out of love, not hate. I’m a firm believer that we as veterans owe it to this country to share our stories, because while we can never truly convey what combat is to people who have not experienced it, maybe we can shed a little light on what true service and sacrifice is.”
As I endeavor to remind our readers regularly, Clint says, “Our country is a much better place than the media portrays it. The divisiveness that exists in the country today is not what I see when traveling around the country.”
But he also notes that his generation has “come up short” when it comes to teaching young people the importance of patriotism and the sacrifices made on their behalf. “We complain about Millennial apathy, but we haven’t shown them the way.”
A major component of our Medal of Honor Heritage Center is educating young people about the six character traits that are common to recipients: Courage, Sacrifice, Patriotism, Citizenship, Integrity, and Commitment.
Our national Veterans Day observance originated as Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
We set aside Veterans Day to honor the sacrifice of generations of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coastguardsmen who have carried forward the banner of Liberty since the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord. Millions of American Patriots have, for generations, honored their oaths “to support and defend” the Liberty that was “endowed by our Creator” as affirmed in our Declaration of Independence and enshrined in our Constitution.
During his address to West Point cadets on 12 May 1962, Gen. Douglas MacArthur observed, “Duty, honor, country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.”
Amid all the political rancor that dominates the public discourse and news cycles, we should remind others of the following observation from Army veteran Charles M. Province:
It is the Soldier, not the minister, who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.
At one point in their lives, every veteran wrote a blank check made payable to “The People of the United States of America” for an amount up to and including their life.
Finally, tp genuinely demonstrate gratitude to military veterans and those still serving, Patriots who have and continue to defend the Liberty we enjoy, here is my suggestion: Strive to be, first and foremost, an American citizen worthy of their sacrifice.
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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776